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The Role of Traditions in Establishing Family Unity

Updated on November 17, 2015
denise.w.anderson profile image

Denise speaks from her own experience. She has had many trials and difficulties in her own life and seeks to help others through theirs.

We often think of traditions as being centered around special occasions, such as holidays or birthdays, but there are other traditions as well.
We often think of traditions as being centered around special occasions, such as holidays or birthdays, but there are other traditions as well. | Source

What kind of traditions do you have in your family?

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What are traditions?

When we think of traditions, we usually think of special days such as birthdays and holidays. The things we do on these occasions celebrate our family's culture, heritage, and personality. Traditions not only have to do with the way we dress, eat, and speak, but the way we pray, the symbolism we use, and the activities we enjoy.

Each family has its own way of doing things, and as such, creates its own culture. Often this culture is a mixture of their country of origin, the things they remember and treasure from their own families, their likes and desires, and the place they choose to live.

No matter where they come from, traditions form the substance of which our family life is made. The unity we experience as a family depends in large measure on the traditions we establish early in the lives of our children.

Traditions are the welding link that bind our children to our family. They bring our children home, anxious to create memories that they know they will treasure, give reasons for doing the things we do, and provide us with a sense of purpose, identity, structure, and stability.

You've been given a great treasure, not of silver or of gold. It's one that's made in heaven, long before the days of old. This prize is of great value, but never money will it buy. You must keep and guard it, or from you it will fly.*

The heritage we have been given by our parents and grandparents is a great gift. When we remember where they have been and how we got where we are, we realize that the life we live today will have an effect on our children and grandchildren.
The heritage we have been given by our parents and grandparents is a great gift. When we remember where they have been and how we got where we are, we realize that the life we live today will have an effect on our children and grandchildren. | Source

Types of traditions

The traditions we establish in our home frequently have to do with the way we:

  • Prepare and serve food
  • Dress, and the roles we play in our home
  • Celebrate, the holidays and holy days
  • Gather, with immediate and extended family
  • Resolve conflict or differences
  • Pray, our religious beliefs and ceremonies

Traditions are a powerful force in our lives. Many are unspoken, they are just "the way" that we act and expect our children to act. We, their first teachers, may not know why we do these things ourselves, we just know that they are important to us, and we want our children to do them.

These traditions may be adopted by choice, as we establish practices that express our beliefs and identity. In doing so, we create within our home a solid structure of activities that brings our family about us, developing togetherness and a sense of unity. Our family is the single most definitive influence in the lives of our children.

Sometimes teenagers scoff at the traditions of their parents. When this happens to us, it is best to help our children understand where these traditions come from. Oftentimes, as they learn about their ancestors, and our own past, they will grow in their understanding of our way of life. We can also tell our children that when they establish a home of their own, they will be able to establish their own traditions. More often than not, these children, once they leave our homes, realize our wisdom and adopt many of the same traditions.

I speak of your great heritage, your family's good name. They worked for generations to build it's current fame. They sailed across the ocean, they forded hill and dale. They settled and they planted, they hauled both wood and pail. They prayed and read the scriptures, they did not forget the Lord. He blessed them and they prospered, they believed his every word.

The things we do together as a family form traditions that last for generations.
The things we do together as a family form traditions that last for generations. | Source

In the Church we can teach about the materials from which a shield of faith is made: reverence, courage, chastity, repentance, forgiveness, compassion. In church we can learn how to assemble and fit them together. But the actual making of and fitting on of the shield of faith belongs in the family circle. Otherwise it may loosen and come off in a crisis.

— Boyd K. Packer

Traditions help us forge bonds that cannot be broken

Traditions are those things that we do on a regular basis, providing a solid foundation upon which our family relationships are built. They form a welding link that ties our family together through a shared identity and purpose. During times of difficulty, these traditions keep our family close, knowing that there is something bigger than our individual selves that brings us together.

As we take the time to teach our children what they need to know to be successful in life, both through our words, and the traditions we espouse, we give them the tools needed to go forward independently when they leave our home. The time we take now to emphasize family values will pay great dividends in the future.

The family is the primary socializing force in society. Our society is only as strong as it's individual families. When we establish and practice high quality traditions in our homes, we allow our family members to experience peace and happiness.

Examples of traditions that build a solid foundation in the home

Spiritual
Physical
Intellectual
Emotional
Family prayer
Eat healthy
Read together
Express emotions productively
Scripture study
Have regular family meals
Write together
Resolve conflicts when they happen
Family Home Evening
Exercise daily
Develop talents
Acknowledge the feelings of others
Pray at meal times
Get adequate rest
Put emphasis on learning
Give encouragement and support
Attend church
Have regular recreation
Communicate with others
Express affection

The current times we live in would have you to believe that it really doesn't matter, the dead, they cannot grieve. But God will swiftly answer that life will endless be, and you must live with choices throughout all eternity.

Traditions can be as simple as checking in with each other in the morning and at night.
Traditions can be as simple as checking in with each other in the morning and at night. | Source

Traditions bring us close together when we are apart

The traditions we establish in our homes and families help bring us together when we have to be apart. Whether we are away for work, recreation, or to take care of extended family issues, checking in with each other on a regular basis keeps the fires of love and loyalty burning brightly.

Knowing that our loved ones are doing the same thing that we are doing brings us closer to them in intimate ways. We feel of their love and support, and have a shared bond of togetherness. We know that they would be with us if they could. We look forward to going home, embracing our loved ones, and being with them once again.

Establishing traditions when children are young binds the family together. Then, as family members grow up and leave home, they take a part of us with them. We remember our loved ones as we continue with our traditions after they are gone. We are able to ward off feelings of loneliness and despair, especially during holiday celebrations. The experiences we share in spite of time and distance keep our loved ones in our minds and hearts.

Do not forget your parents, your grandparents, your greats. They watch your every action, in heaven each one waits. They love you and they miss you, you knew them all before. They work each day for your return. Be conscious of them more. And each day as you live your life, keep close to God above. Provide a goodly heritage for those you really love.

Traditions give us a solid sense of identity

The traditions that we have in our family give our children a sense of who they are, where they come from, and where they are going. They give us ties that bind our family together in ways that cannot be achieved in society at large. When the time comes that they are ready to form their own families, they will be able to have a basis from which to build.

Whether our traditions come from our country of origin, our manner of dress and speaking, the way we celebrate our holidays and holy days, or simply the fact that we do certain things at certain times and places, our traditions will be a welding link between us and our children, binding us together in spiritual, physical, intellectual, and emotional ways that give peace and happiness, whether in our individual lives, or the future families of our children, and their children, and their children....

Establish high quality traditions in your family today, for your emotional health!

© 2013, Denise W. Anderson, all rights reserved.This hub is an Emotional Survival Resource. For more information on emotional health and emotional survival, see www.denisewa.com.

* "Heritage" poem by Denise W. Anderson

Just like the variety of holiday cookies available, the traditions we choose have a lot to do with our own individual tastes, the culture we come from, and the practices our families engaged in when we were growing up.
Just like the variety of holiday cookies available, the traditions we choose have a lot to do with our own individual tastes, the culture we come from, and the practices our families engaged in when we were growing up. | Source

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    • denise.w.anderson profile image
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      Denise W Anderson 4 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Eliza and MsDora. Family traditions are a big part of our family, especially on my husband's side of the family. They get together often and play musical instruments, perform programs at nursing homes, and eat traditional food. On my side of the family, we have more of the spiritual traditions. It has been an adventure combining the two families and we have found that certain things work better for us than others. It is definitely a joy to hear our children talk about the things we did when they were at home, and how they remember the love that they felt and cherish.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Denise, it is so true that traditions help forge a bond among family members. The older I get, the more I cherish my heritage and am anxious to share with the young ones. Family worship is a tradition I would love to see them continue. Thank you for another great article.

    • profile image

      Eliza Anderson 4 years ago

      that is really good information about traditions. I like how our family is doing things.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image
      Author

      Denise W Anderson 4 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      Thanks, teaches12345. Traditions bring great blessings into the family circle. It is through those things that we do every day, every week, every month, and every year, that provide stability and strength. We will have a profound effect on our children and grandchildren as we establish family practices and traditions that add to our physical, mental, intellectual and emotional well being. I appreciate your comment!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Traditions to hold families together and as you wrote, should be introduced when children are young. I love your post and how it reminds us what is important in our relationships through tradition. Blessings.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image
      Author

      Denise W Anderson 4 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Sundeep. I appreciate the positive feedback!

    • denise.w.anderson profile image
      Author

      Denise W Anderson 4 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      Thanks for your comment, billy. We are at that same place ourselves. It is different when there are only two of you. We are finally able to do some traveling that we have always wanted to do. We also have found that it is easier for us to travel and see our children, rather than having them travel to see us. Enjoy!

    • Sundeep Kataria profile image

      Sundeep Kataria 4 years ago

      Beautiful ! Excellent !

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I believe traditions are very important for the family structure. Our kids are just about all grown and out of here; one to go, a high school student...then Bev and I will have to start new traditions for just the two of us. Should be interesting but then life is never boring. Well done Denise!