father and son playing baseball

Something as simple as hitting a few balls with Dad after dinner can turn into a family's generations-long love of baseball.


Creating Rituals

If you're having a hard time identifying your family's particular traditions or coming up with new ones, the best thing to look for is a ritual. In "The Book of New Family Traditions," author Meg Cox writes that a ritual is "pretty much anything families do together deliberately, as long as it's juiced up with some flourish that lifts it above humdrum routine." Rituals range from the simple -- weekly game night, Sunday morning pancakes -- to the adventurous (annual family ski vacations to the Rockies, for example) and the obscure (Monday Night 10-Minute Neil Diamond Dance Party!).

Consistency is the key to maintaining family rituals. Cox suggests that families implement one daily ritual and another to be observed each week. Pick a time of the day and week for each and stick to it.

Remember that your family's rituals need not be huge productions or long, time-consuming events. With rituals, it's often a case of less is more. The goal is to develop simple regular routines that keep the family interacting with each other. Basketball legend Bill Walton, for example, used to write inspiring quotes (often taken from The Big Red Head's college coach, John Wooden) on his kids' lunch bags every morning before they went off to school. These types of regular rituals not only impart that coveted sense of security but also teach basic values.

Families can also implement basic nightly rituals like sharing cooking duties, setting the dinner table and washing dishes. After dinner, bedtime is often the best time to observe rituals. A nightly tuck-in or story is a tradition that's easy to keep and encourages children go to bed (and hopefully stay there for the night) feeling safe, secure and loved.

Once these basic rituals are developed, you're ready to expand them into lasting family traditions.