How are family rituals important?

November 1, 2018

Dr. Amy Fortney ParksOwner of The Wise Family:

As I write this note to you, I am sitting on the couch with a bowl FULL of Reeces’s peanut butter cups! We did not have ONE trick or treater. What a bummer! I bought candy, lit candles, have the door open and someone on our street is playing spooky music. We set up the whole scene, and not one Harry Potter or Princess Leia in sight.

Reminds me of the nights that I worked my tush off to make a nice dinner, and everyone either ate and rushed off to a sports practice or event, or looked at the dinner and said ‘YUCK”!

Have you ever worked hard to make something special for your family, to then have it fizzle in your face? Well, Happy 1st Day of November – and the 1st day of our November Dinner Challenge!

As folks that work with families everyday, and who have families ourselves, we know what it is like to want the family to get together for a meal, or to have a tradition that inspires FAMILY SPIRIT!  So we created the FAMILY DINNER CHALLENGE to encourage and support you in your efforts to bring everyone to the table! Before we start the FAMILY SPIRIT cheer, let us share a few thoughts about the importance of rituals and traditions for your family.

And share this email with friends – or look for the FAMILY DINNER CHALLENGE info on Facebook and Instagram to share with other families.

WE GOT SPIRIT, YES WE DO, WE GOT SPIRIT, HOW ABOUT YOU? And lots of left over candy TOO!


Dr. Dominique AdkinsEdD – Therapist for The Wise Family: 

Family rituals are a time to grow and bond as a family. Even as children become teens and teens become young adults it is important to keep these traditions. These rituals can be during the holidays or on a weekly or monthly basis. The fun thing about rituals is they can evolve to meet the needs of each generation while having the same impact on a family. Think of this set aside time as a way to connect with each other and to pass along traditions and the family’s culture that one day your teens or young adults will share with their family.

The wonderful thing about rituals or traditions is they can start at any time and with any event or activity. So if your family does not have one it is never too late to start one!


Amanda Beyland, LCSW – Therapist for The Wise Family: 

Family rituals, or traditions, are simple- just something your family does together! With the various activities and commitments each family member has, rituals help to develop belonging and create connection with each member of the family. Kids thrive on routine so family rituals just take them one step further.

We don’t have to wait for a holiday to have a ritual and it doesn’t need to be something showy or expensive. If your family ritual is something simple and inexpensive it’s likely to be something everyone will look forward to and easy to do regularly. You might already have a family ritual that you don’t even consider a “ritual”. Rituals could be family movie night on Friday, pancake breakfast on Sunday, or a family bike ride every other weekend and each will be unique to the family. Whatever it is just make sure the whole family is involved and have fun!


Kasey Cain, Resident in Counseling – Therapist for The Wise Family: 

Routines and rituals are repeated patterns of behaviors. Some may happen naturally while others may be intentional. Routines provide order and predictability in an often frenetic world. It is important to teach a child flexibility in case the routine is disrupted for some reason or another, but it is equally important to work towards maintaining the routine. Routines serve as a way to help young children learn important life skills such as self-care (ex. brushing teeth at least two times daily) and time management (ex. setting aside time for daily tasks while still allowing time for relaxation/play).

Rituals often hold a more sentimental meaning. They express a sense of belonging and identity in a family unit. Example of rituals include but are not limited to cultural traditions, holiday celebrations, vacations, shared family mealtime, yearly seasonal activity such as apple picking. Both routines and rituals are important to the social, emotional and academic growth and development of children. But you don’t just have to take my word for it. A review of over 50 years of research on family routines and rituals identified improved marital satisfaction, adolescents’ sense of personal identity, children’s health, academic achievement and stronger family relationships as benefits of routines and rituals.

Reference: “A Review of 50 Years of Research on Naturally Occurring Family Routines and Rituals: Cause for Celebration?,” Barbara H. Fiese, Thomas J. Tomcho, Michael Douglas, Kimberly Josephs, Scott Poltrock, and Tim Baker; Syracuse University; Journal of Family Psychology, Vol. 16, No. 4.

Until next week, Be Wise!