How to Build Family Traditions

Why Build Family Traditions?

What's so great about family traditions? The answer is in the question: your family. You're going to be spending a lifetime with them, so you may as well enjoy it.

Yet there are other benefits to encouraging and embracing family traditions in addition to simply making family time a bit more pleasant. "Families who talk and plan together are more successful and happier than families who don't," according to psychotherapist Joanne Stern, the author of "Parenting is a Contact Sport." "You have the unique opportunity to create meaningful family rituals that bond you together, give your kids a sense of belonging and make them feel valued," she adds [source: Psychology Today].

Through traditions, families honor the past, celebrate the present and lay the foundation for the future. In "Family Traditions," Thomas Kinkade and Kathleen Blease note that "[t]here's no greater comfort to a young child than a family, and there's no greater joy to a parent than building a family that is sustaining and nurturing." Indeed, the memories created through tradition often stay with children forever, imparting a sense of comfort and security that both young and old crave throughout their lives.

That's not to say that all traditions are -- or should be -- serious business. Don't get bogged down in details and formalities; the point of the tradition is for the family to enjoy each other's company, not feel trapped by or pressure to hold on to those that simply don't work anymore. Read on for tips on trading in those stale events and outings for new traditions the whole family can agree on.