Family Traditions – a repost

The special things we look forward to as a family and the everyday routines we abide by such as the time we get up, the foods we have for breakfast, the things we do on the weekends, and the activities we are involved in during the week are the threads of life that bind us together as a family.

Melinda Hill, Extension Agent, says a strong family has a commitment to one another and keeps increasing in strength because of the time they spend together. The way we “do” things becomes our family traditions. You won’t find them written down anywhere, but if you ask one of the family members a question concerning a particular event, they will tell you “we always …”

When the kids were little we would pile into the car and drive around looking at Christmas lights. We chose this time to deliver gifts of cookies, or wine to friends of ours. If our friends weren’t home they missed out. This became a family tradition.

On a Saturday when we’re not all going different directions, we like to make breakfast burritos and sit out on the deck. It seems like a lot of our family traditions center around food!

On road trips we listen to the Bare Naked Ladies or Abba, loudly, and we sing along. When the kids were really little we listened to the Adventures in Odyssey series (Focus on the Family). Every once in a while, just for grins, we’ll pull off the highway and run silly circles around the car.

William Doherty, Director of Marriage and Family Therapy at the University of Minnesota addresses the importance of family traditions or rituals in his book, The Intentional Family: How to Build Family Ties in Our Modern World.

He gives the main reasons family should develop rituals or traditions:

  • It makes family life predictable.
  • It gives family a chance to reconnect.
  • Family rituals teach children what the family values.

Hall says says there are 3 different types of traditions:

  • Celebration Traditions (holidays, birthdays, etc)
  • Family Traditions (special things which fit your family’s lifestyle i.e. pizza, vacations, etc)
  • Patterned Family Interactions (bedtime, Sunday afternoons, etc.)

Here is my list to get you thinking about family traditions:

Games on popcorn on Saturday night

Saying “I Love You” before going to sleep

Having a “tailgater” before the ballgame

Serving a meal like chili or dumplings before a certain event

Acting out the Christmas story from Luke 2 using real people or figures from the crèche.

Dancing to a favorite Neil Diamond song

Opening one gift on Christmas Eve

Having an event such as the Bolder Boulder that you all do together

 What traditions does your family have?


Advice for Couples: Dealing with Boundary Crossing In-Laws

Now that the holiday season is almost here, let’s talk In-laws…

I can’t tell you how many clients come to me with problems related to their parents or parents-in-law.

For instance, one woman felt pressure to go into debt and buy very expensive gifts for her husband’s parents because the parents spent so much money on her children. I told her to stick to her budget and not change her behavior based on someone else’s. I also asked her to have her husband tell his parent’s they didn’t want their children spoiled with such expensive gifts.

Yesterday, I was watching Dr. Phil and there was a woman that had to be the most intrusive and mean person I’ve ever seen on television. I kept thinking it had to be an act. She hated her daughter’s choice of a husband and made sure she told everyone…every 30 seconds.

Dr. Phil threatened to take her off-stage so he could talk to her daughter. He added this great advice:

When there’s trouble in a marriage, it’s your job to handle your people.

In other words, the wife needs to deal with the trouble-makers in her family and set firm boundaries with them, and the husband should to do the same with his family.

Then he told the young woman,

Your people are out of control!

Gretchen Rubin at The Happiness Project just happened to post on this same subject today. Here’s another article I wrote about managing holiday stress.

What advice would you give newlyweds for dealing with boundary-crossing inlaws? What advice would you offer for dealing with holiday stress? 

We’re Losing Our Marbles

I’m reading a really interesting book right now. It’s called Weird by pastor of LifeChurch.TV, Craig Groeschel. He shares a story about a dad who never intended to take his kids for granted. He realized his time with them would run out unless he was intentional about slowing down and savoring time with them.

He calculated he had 143 Saturdays left with his oldest daughter before she graduated from high school. He filled a jar with 143 marbles and each Saturday he pulled one out. It was inevitable that time would run out, but at least this way he got to decide where his time went.

God gives us a gift each day. How are you making the most of today?

Watch a one-minute clip about the book: