Our family has a tradition of watching The Twilight Zone on New Year’s Eve. It is one of the things that our grown, college age, teens, and younger children all look forward to doing together. In fact, no one ever wants to go out on New Year’s and miss the family all watching our favorite episodes together while eating mostly junk food. We leave it playing in the background while we play board games and talk. The Twilight Zone connects us as a family. It is something we all look forward to and wouldn’t want to miss. It’s part of who we are and we share the common memory of it together. It’s tradition.
Tradition is what cultures, countries, clubs, schools, and teams use to build a sense of cohesiveness and closeness. It helps people feel that they belong to the group.
Traditions are essential to a strong family because:
Traditions Create a Sense of Belonging
As I referenced in my celebrations post, traditions relate to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. After our basic needs are met, our need for belonging is the next step in our growth toward self actualization. So, if we want kids to have high self esteem, feelings of accomplishment, and to achieve their potential, then we need to provide things that give them a sense of belonging and the feeling of close relationships.
Sidenote: This is why public schools prioritize meals for students. Federal funds are used to make sure that children have breakfast, lunch and a safe place to learn are provided at school so that a student’s basic physiological needs are met. Children cannot reach any of the higher levels unless the first is met.
Traditions give your kids a sense of belonging to the family. What you do as a family connects you to one another and fulfills the need for relationships and belonging.
Traditions Teach Values
The traditions that your family holds teach your kids about what you value. From family dinner to church attendance to reading aloud to vacations, all of these things inform your kids about what things are important. Later, your kids will use these values to make important decisions about their goals and what they hope to accomplish in life.
Traditions Provide a Sense of Security
When our children were younger, every Tuesday night was park night. After dinner on Tuesdays we would go to the park and then out for $1 ice cream at Baskin Robbins. They could count on it, without fail. These kinds of traditions are comforting to kids and help them feel safe. It makes you and the world a bit more predictable and less frightening. A sense of safety is also the second level of the hierarchy of needs, so you are helping your kids reach the higher levels of relationship, self-esteem, and self-actualization.
Traditions Mark the Seasons
We tend to have traditions surrounding the change of seasons of the calendar, seasons of life, and holiday seasons. When we have traditions around events, it gives us a feeling of hope and anticipation. We look forward to the next tradition. It also helps us form memories around events in our lives and gives us a sense of nostalgia. So, traditions help us look forward to things in the future and then help us remember things in the past. Positive memories from childhood create happier adults.
Traditions are the glue that cements strong family bonds. Strong family bonds create children who have a sense of belonging and have meaningful relationships. They have positive childhood memories and feel happier in general. These children have higher self esteem and feelings of accomplishment. They then grow up to achieve their goals and reach their full potential and isn't that the whole goal of parenting?