Families Need Traditions

Carrying out family traditions takes effort, but traditions and rituals can make families stronger.  Holidays are good times for families to celebrate annual rituals, like serving special foods, telling favorite stories, putting cherished decorations on display and creating holiday memories strengthens family ties. No need to wait for the holiday season though. Small customs like a weekly family meal, uniquely celebrating birthdays or life cycle celebrations like weddings or graduations are great places to start.

Most importantly, there are no right or wrong traditions. Families can use their own values, religion, history and culture to create traditions that are meaningful to them.

Join us this month as we talk about family traditions and rituals.

 

 

 

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Rituals in the Home

I can still hear my grandmother saying the prayer before a meal. I can still hear my father saying the same prayer. I taught the same prayer to my children and grandchildren. In fact if I am rushed before a meal and forget, one of the grandkids will remind me of the prayer. Do you have a similar ritual in your family? So prayerwhat’s my point?

It is really a simple, yet powerful, concept – rituals. Do not minimize the importance of rituals in your home. These rituals, similar yet unique in each family, have a significant impact on a child’s development of faith.

Let’s think about some other rituals you might observe. Perhaps you set up a Nativity at Christmas or light candles at Chanukkah. Maybe there are bedtime prayers or a scaled down activity schedule on the Sabbath. Religious symbols might be placed in the home. Some rituals revolve around food – eating kosher, having fish on Friday, giving up chocolate for Lent. This is just a small sampling of rituals in the home but should give you an idea of what I mean.

Granted, religious services can be part of a child’s spiritual training. But what happens in the home is part of a child’s daily life; it’s up close and personal. Home rituals also give you as the parent a chance to model (notice how I weave that concept into most topics) your own beliefs.

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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Parenting and Natural Disasters

I hope everyone had a great 4th of July!  Mine was spent at a small resort town, where as with most towns, a highlight for everyone is the big fireworks display.  We did our best to prep my 3 year old cousin for the event, including talking with her about what she could expect (loud lights, big “booms”), and giving her earplugs.  Despite our best efforts, she still found the big “booms” terrifying, and had to retreat into the house with her mom.  Some of you may have experienced a similar situation with your children this 4th.

If such a beautiful display of lights can cause such fear and angst for a child, imagine what feelings a natural disaster could evoke.  In line with this month’s podcast about natural disasters, I wanted to highlight a few important steps that parents can take to help their children in the event of a natural disaster.

  1. Let your children know that you are there to keep them safe.  Let them know you are still a family, you will still provide a safe environment, and you will make it through this.
  2. Ask your children what they’ve seen, what they’ve heard, and how they feel about it.  Children will need a chance to discuss their feelings.  Listen to them, reassure them of their safety, and give them lots of hugs and love.  You will likely need to revisit the topic multiple times, as the information, understanding, and feelings children have about the event will change and need to be discussed.  It can also be helpful for you and/or your children to speak with a grief counselor.
  3. Maintain routines or rituals.  Maintaining activities that provide a sense of security and comfort can help your children cope with the events.  For example, eating dinner together or reading a book before bed can help children feel a sense of normalcy and comfort.

What questions do you have about helping your child cope with natural disasters?

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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