Daily Traditions That Build Relationships


November / December 2015

By Camille Olson

Growing up, the holidays were a magical time. We looked forward to the beautiful china that was set on the Thanksgiving table, the Danish Christmas breakfast, and performing the holiday plays we spent endless hours creating. Why did we care so much about what was done during the holidays? Because it was a Tradition! A tradition is “something that comforts us and makes us feel grounded-regardless of what’s caving in around us.”


When we think of traditions, we think of holidays and the special things we do to celebrate together with the people we love. However, some of the best and most important traditions are celebrated daily. These daily traditions do not have to be complex or expensive, but they do have to be consistent (or they wouldn’t be traditions). “Celebrating a tradition with somebody says ’I love you’ or ’you’re important to me’-with actions, rather than just words.”

Have you considered that reading with a loved one and spending meal times together as a family is a tradition? One of my favorite times of the day was when either my Mom or Dad would sneak away from my other siblings and climb into my bed, pull the covers up, and read with me. We would always read, but a lot of the time it ended up in laughter and talking about the day’s events. It was my time to spend with my parents. “Reading aloud is one of the most effective ways to model language and improve language skills. In addition, reading with a child has also been shown to improve emotional and social development. It is a time when the child can form appropriate bonds of love and attachment.”

As a family, we also spent dinnertime together. My parents were very diligent in creating this time for us. In a world of fast food and busy schedules packed with activities, it is hard to slow down long enough to eat together as a family. However, having mealtimes together is probably the most natural of all the traditions because everyone needs to eat and we’ve been doing it in social groups throughout time. “A telephone survey of almost 2000 teenagers indicated that frequent family dinners were associated with decreased risk for smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and smoking marijuana. Family mealtimes can be seen as a positive context for emotional and physical well-being among youth. These shared repeated rituals help to stabilize families and form a sense of tradition and structure.”

It is never too late to start new traditions, or to “restart” old traditions that have dwindled over the years. Try it, it is worth the effort! And your family might like it