• Dr. Todd

The Magic of Family Rituals

Updated: Jun 12, 2020

Valerie and I try to do a few things in our family that keep us connected with each other and with the kids. The kids don’t know that we do these things purposefully, but we have developed some rituals over the years. These are small and seemingly insignificant, and most of the time are quite mundane.  They include things like having dinner together and tucking the kids into bed at night. Some rituals we suck at and others we’re pretty good at.

The nice thing about these rituals is that they provide a little window of time to make connections with our kids. These are always just little connections, and involve finding out what’s going on in their lives. For example, yesterday Maddie told me about a college campus she wanted to visit this week and wanted me to come with her. She was excited about this and several friends were planning on going. Katie told me about her plans for working out and getting stronger for soccer. She informed me she needed more “upper body strength” if she wanted to be an elite soccer player. Bryan and I spent about 3-5 minutes alternatively reading out loud pages from the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid book. These books are freaking hilarious by the way. They also single-handedly turned a little boy who hated reading into one that can’t put the books down now.

Why are these rituals so important? Because they tie us together. They allow me to keep a storage space in my brain of all the important things that are going on in my kid’s lives. This creates an intimate familiarity with them, how they’re doing, and what they’re up to. It creates an intimacy in and of itself. By doing these little things, my hope is that maybe, when they have really important things they are dealing with, they’ll feel comfortable coming to me. One of the rituals we suck at, but do occasionally, is what we call a “family home evening.” This is something that our faith encourages families to do on a weekly basis. It’s basically one night a week dedicated to doing something solely with your family. Sometimes we do it on Sunday night, sometimes we do it on Monday night, sometimes we do it no nights. These evenings usually include a small topic of discussion, singing the same cheesy song together that we’ve now been singing together for years, and a family prayer. Like most of our rituals, these are always relaxed and low-key. Sometimes magic comes from them though, such as an experience we had just this week.

Valerie had been talking about gratitude, it is Thanksgiving after all. Just when we were wrapping things up, I decided on a whim to ask everyone to share one thing they felt grateful for about each other. We then spent almost 30 minutes going around the room, each person sharing one or several things they felt grateful for about each other. It was an amazing, emotional, very tender and touching experience. Many tears were shed, there was a lot of hugging, and a feeling of peace and love permeated our home unlike anything I had felt in quite some time. Even Bryan, my 9 year old boy was able to understand and articulate some very special feelings, and it was amazing to see his reaction as his sisters talked about him.

When Valerie and I went to bed that night, we couldn’t stop talking about what had just happened, and how out of the blue it was. Maybe this is something we should all consider doing more of, both formally and informally. Let’s tell each other why we are grateful for each other. I promise that this will create deeper connections for you in your family.

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