Creating Family Rituals
My son gazes lovingly into my eyes one night as I put him to bed. This has always been an important time of connection for us. I have sung him his own song since he was a baby. This song signals the words I want to deeply instil within him, that he is loved and he is special to us. He is our fourth child, and I have done this little ritual with all four of my boys, they each have their own song.
Sometimes I sing it with speed, because I am in a hurry to get my day complete so I can get into my precious bed, and sometimes it’s done with all the time in the world, and we relish this time. He knows when I’m in a hurry and will not be rushed. He watches me, he reads me, he plays with me – it is in these times he is learning the art of connection, how to read people, and the joy of intimacy and looking deeply into a person’s eyes. On this particular night, he looks sweetly into my eyes, and utters the dreaded words – “Mummy I’m sick of that song, can we do something else?” my heart shatters, though I am amused at his honesty, and I recognise the time has come for a new ritual.
Since then, we have done reading before bed, little hand play rituals like a secret handshake, kissing rituals (butterfly kisses and kangaroo kisses) all very amusing. I have heard my older sons question him – “has mum done the love bubble yet? I used to cheat and always make her stay longer.” As the mum of teenagers and grownups, I’m so glad we did those little rituals as they have lived on long past their time.
A ritual is something that is done over and over again. It is a signal that this moment is special. It is time to pay attention, to be present, to be mindful. Family rituals are remembered. They are remembered because they make people feel special and draw their attention to this important moment. Any experience that has strong emotion attached to it, like happiness or excitement, or even humility and seriousness, will forge a deep place in our memory.
Rituals have taken many forms, in different countries, in different cultures and different religions. Each family has its own ritual – these are usually the big moments. The moments of celebration, or honouring a significant time of the year.
- Christmas or other religious occasions
- Birthdays or anniversaries
- The changing of the seasons
Then there are the everyday rituals and occasions, which are much smaller, and yet practiced every day. In some ways, these are more important than the big moments, because they become a habit, a daily practice. We are creating rituals even when we don’t realise it. They have woven themselves into our every day life.
- Eating rituals
- Use of screens
- Bed time rituals
- Bath time rituals
- Morning rituals
What were the rituals of your childhood?
What ones would you like to pass onto your family? What ones would you not do?
To think about your big and little rituals, it is good to ask yourselves the following questions:
- What is important to you as a family? What are your basic beliefs you have as parents?
- What do you see your role is as parents? What are you here to teach them? What values do you want to install into your children?
This is an important starting point, to really examine what is important to you as parents. Get conscious, get clear and make sure your actions reflect your values. Rituals change and evolve according to where your children are at. It’s never too early, or too late to implement rituals and traditions.
Enjoy making memories. One day you will hear those memories expressed by your adult children and be glad you created those moments.
Love to you all for the magnificent job you do as parents.