Family Rituals Vital To Growth And Stability

Diane Sasser  |  10/28/2005 8:47:24 PM

News You Can Use For November 2005

Many family memories revolve around rituals. Rituals help us identify who we are as a family and individuals.

"Rituals also can get us through tough times," says LSU AgCenter family life professor Dr. Diane D. Sasser. She explains that they can help us feel more "normal" when life becomes stressful or we experience major change.

During such times, like hurricane recovery, we look for occurrences we can depend on and some sameness that lets us know that life goes on. Rituals can do that for us.

Sasser divides rituals into five groups: down to earth – inexpensive maintenance activities, usually done at home; seasonal – yearly celebrations such as birthdays, holidays and vacations; hackneyed – taking the easiest way to get through mandatory interactions; courting – intimate activities between the couple; and leisure – relaxing activities such as games, concerts and other events.

Families use different types of rituals as they move forward in their development. Most families go through six stages of development:

1. Leaving home. It is normal for young adults to avoid family rituals.

2. Getting married. Studies show that the success or failure of a marriage depends on rituals.

3. Starting child care rituals by families with young children.

4. Following rites of passage by teens, such as driver’s license, dating, buying a class ring, voting.

5. Launching children and moving on. Spouses go through the empty-nest syndrome and get to know each other again. This ritual helps spouses know others’ feelings and provides transition time to let go of negative experiences and focus on positive feelings of loved ones.

6. Examining family traditions. Members of the older generation look to live on through tradition while accepting their mortality.

Sasser says many of us find as we go through the transitions required to recover from the disasters of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, that our family traditions and rituals provide us with comfort and consolation. She recommends that if your family doesn’t have traditions or rituals, you might consider initiating some yourself.

For information on related family topics, click on LSU AgCenter Web site, www.lsuagcenter.com. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.

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On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: http://www.lsuagcenter.com/

Source: Diane D. Sasser (225) 578-4448, or Dsasser@agcenter.lsu.edu

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