Family rituals make family members feel good and create a sense of identity, security and belonging. Even simple rituals like singing a song before bed can hold special meaning for children and families.
Family rituals: What are they?
Family rituals are things that only your family does. Rituals help you say, ‘This is who we are and what we value’. You might not even realise that you have rituals, but even a special song at bath time is a ritual.
Some rituals might have been handed down from your grandparents or other relatives, like always opening Christmas crackers with the person on your left, or going out for breakfast on Sunday mornings, or having chocolate ice-cream on Friday nights. Others, you might create as a family.
Your family’s rituals might include celebrating religious occasions like Christmas, Vesak Day or Hari Raya. Your family might also have rituals for cultural festivals, like Deepavali, Halloween or Chinese New Year, as well as for birthdays, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
Your rituals may be things that only your family understands. They may be:
A ritual could also involve a common interest with someone in your family, like going to football matches, studying insects, watching a particular TV show or playing a favourite board game. It might be riding bikes on Sundays, making scrapbooks, having take-away food on Friday nights, or making particular kinds of flavoured jellies or cupcakes for family birthdays.
Family rituals: Why they’re important
Family rituals like meals, cultural festivals, activities, and kisses, winks or handshakes give you and your children a sense of security, identity and belonging. That’s because they’re special things that you do together and they have special meaning for you. They create shared memories, and build family relationships and bonds.
Rituals can also help comfort children in unfamiliar circumstances. For example, if your child loves listening to you read a bedtime story before lights go out, this ritual will help her settle to sleep when she’s in a different place.
Rituals help children feel that the world is a safe and predictable place. They can be anchors that help your children feel safe in uncertain or changing times like during a family separation, or when you’re moving house, or after a traumatic event like a death in the family.
Rituals can strengthen family values and help pass these values on to your children. For example, something as simple as Sunday night dinner together every week says that you value spending time with each other.
Tips for fun rituals
These ideas can help you create fun rituals for your family: