Family Rituals

Kimberly A. Evans  |  7/22/2009 7:59:36 PM

Family Rituals

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

Rituals also can get us through tough times. They can help us feel more "normal" when life becomes stressful or when we experience major changes.

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.

Rituals may be divided 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 each other's 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.

Many of us find as we go through the transitions required to recover from the disasters of the hurricanes and storms we've experienced the past few years that our family traditions and rituals provide us with comfort and consolation. It is recommended that if your family doesn’t have traditions or rituals, you might consider initiating some yourself.

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