Family rituals: harm or benefit?
Man among people
What do we imagine when we hear the phrase “ideal family”? Dad, mom, children and grandmother at the same table, smiles, conversations, gifts, holiday. Balls or tree, pies, happy faces and bright outfits. However, not always traditional gatherings in the family circle are accompanied by joyful laughter and comprehensive love. Often the unity of family members is only an appearance. So how do you understand, abandon the ritual or continue to get together?
5 signs of useful rituals
The main sign that a family ritual is needed and useful to the whole family. Provided, of course, that joy is experienced not only by the organizer and inspirer, but also by other relatives. Whether we are talking about joint pumpkin carving, daily dinner or autumn crafts from chestnuts – this action should be desired for all its participants.
If mom joyfully collects chestnuts with one hand, weaves lace from pumpkins with a knife and imagination with the other, and the children and dad look longingly at the watch, then this is not a ritual, but a pleasant hobby of the mother, which involuntarily includes the rest. If this is exactly your case, then you should not hold onto such a scheme; it is better to let the household go free. Who knows, suddenly then a new ritual will appear – for example, a regular family talent show.
A ritual is useful when it suits a particular family. When the main thing is not a vivid picture on social networks, not public approval, but a sincere desire to do something together. It is very important not to chase the rituals for the sake of beautiful photos or the mark “done” in the check list. Rituals become useful when the whole family believes in them, when they are liked and close to everyone. And here it is important to be honest with yourself. Recognize that it’s time to review hobbies or traditions.
For example, a man, having created a family, dreamed that he would soon have a son, with whom they would be sawing, planing and kayaking together. But a girl was born, and he suddenly discovered that he really did not like to cut and plan. But she likes to arrange cooking classes, so now joint cooking of dinner or breakfast is a pleasant family ritual.
Family ritual cannot be divorced from the practical life of the family and must correspond to the stage at which the family is at the moment. For example, once upon a time, young childless spouses went to visit friends every Friday to play the mafia and other board games until morning.
And then they had twins, and they had to abandon the tradition. But in order not to lose intimacy, a sense of unity, youth and freedom, they found the opportunity to have breakfast together with the same friends in the city center, but without children, with whom a grandmother or a nanny agreed to sit for a couple of hours.
Rituals have the useful property of enriching family life, and can give a sense of emotional closeness. But for this they must be woven into family life. For example, the son broke his leg and did not manage to go to observe the starfall. Such a nuisance will not be a tragedy if you practice a flexible approach to rituals.
After all, you can arrange a projection of the starry sky on the ceiling, spread blankets on the floor and tell terrible stories to each other. It is important to remember why the family needs this particular ritual in order to be able to come up with something else, but no less interesting, if necessary.
Perhaps this is one of the main indicators of the ritual useful for the family – the whole family is waiting for it, it is valuable and significant for everyone. If they are waiting for him, it means that most likely he is not a substitute for other tasks and is beneficial, working for the emotional closeness of the family and its development at the current stage. So, if you need to check the ritual for usefulness, ask yourself and your family members which traditions bring more joy and what you expect with special pleasure.
5 signs of harmful rituals
1. The need
It is one thing to joyfully rush to my grandmother for pancakes on Sundays; it is quite another to go to her, because it is necessary. As a result, relatives gather at the table who cannot stand each other, but are obliged to visit their little Golgotha. They swear, recall each other’s accumulated claims, hardly wait until the torment is over and you can go home. What to do? If you can’t do without visits to your grandmother, you can change the composition and frequency of visits, for example, travel on different days with those who are pleasant to you, or even try to replace appointments with phone calls.
If there are rituals in the family for all occasions and the cancellation of any of them is equal to disaster, this is an alarming sign. It is possible that the family clings to the rituals, because they are the only thing that holds everyone together. What to do? Perform an audit of the rituals, increase the free time, and in some cases you can go to a meeting with a psychologist to find out what kind of holes in the relationship you are trying to patch up with rituals.
It happens that rituals do not work on the traditions and values of the family, but on creating some kind of image or legend about you. For example, an obligatory New Year’s photo shoot, in which half of the family goes to execution, and the other half manages to quarrel over the subject of who should be standing where and how to smile, and “why Peter is again not in check, as agreed”.
If a ritual photo shoot is done only to post pictures on social networks and convince everyone and yourself that you have everything like people, then such a ritual is harmful. What to do? Check yourself for joy – would you do this photo shoot if you did not need to demonstrate the result to the general public? And who in this case is the recipient of the ritual – you or an unknown external censor? If the answer to the first question is no, and the recipient of the ritual is not you, find a replacement that you will enjoy with the whole family.
Ritual is voluntary. Therefore, punitive measures, resentment and scandals for failure to appear are not the best way to preserve the tradition. If an adult daughter leaves to celebrate the New Year with friends, instead of eating Olivier all night and watching TV with her parents, this does not mean that she protests against something or does not like mom and dad anymore. Most likely, this is a sign that the old ritual is not suitable for everyone. Do not deprive the teenager of pocket money for this; it is much better to change the ritual itself.
Do not cling to familiar rituals just to preserve them. If five-year-olds are happy to glue garlands with their parents for various reasons, then children of 18 years rarely do this with the same enthusiasm. Therefore, in order not to miss the moment, it is worth revising the concept of rituals from time to time.
It is not ritual itself that needs to be preserved, but the idea that it carries within itself. If the main thing is to spend time together, then you can replace the creation of garlands by compiling a family newspaper, preparing a final photo album, skiing, secret Santa, in the end. Or even release family members into free swimming, and after a while get together and tell each other who was getting ready for the holiday.
about the author
Alexandra Kabalevskaya – family therapist. More on heron Instagram.
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