Have you ever given thought to the small yet memorable traditions which generations of your family have repeated? Pause for a moment to call your favorite to mind. Focus on the emotions which this memory evokes within you. In your mind's eye conjure an image of those with whom you typically share this tradition and notice the emotions which it evokes in them as well.
How many of these family traditions have you chosen to continue to practice with your own family? Which ones did you discard? What overlooked family traditions might you want to restore or introduce to your family? Which new ones would you like to invent?
Consider having a family meeting in which everyone brainstorms ideas. Traditions need not be elaborate, time-consuming, or expensive. For example, in my own family, we follow a regional tradition of being the first person to say "rabbit" to someone on the first day of each month. The "winner" is entitled to the other person's good luck for the month! It has to be done in person, not by text, email or any other mode of communication--although by family consensus we have agreed that phone contact is acceptable. We get very stealthy and resort to using other people's phones when calling or Face Timing other family members. It is fun, harmless, free, and something we have done since my children were tots. They are now in their thirties and we continue to practice and pass on this ritual.
Another Swift family tradition is to close letters, sign cards, etc with "Keep on Paddling." This also originated when the kids were little. We were avid canoeists, white-water rafters, and kayakers. We had to constantly remind whichever child was in our vessel that they had to contribute their effort to the trip. Hence the refrain: Keep on Paddling!
When they got older and life's challenges became overwhelming, we would encourage one another with this phrase. It was shorthand for the mutual understanding that we were all in this together, that to safely arrive at our destination, everyonehad to pull their weight.
How might a family tradition benefit your family? What values would you want it to reflect? How will you incorporate a sense of fun? What new tradition will you invent for your family? How will you involve your kids in inventing new traditions?
Please share your ideas so that other readers can benefit from your creativity.
Check out these additional Adoption-attuned resources!
Listen to our podcasts on Adoption-attuned Parenting.
Read these book reviews by GIFT coach, Gayle H. Swift. They are written with an Adoption-attuned perspective
Halloween is just around the corner and a rapid succession of holidays will quickly follow. As Intentional Parents, we have the opportunity to be deliberate about which holidays to observe as well as how we will celebrate them. Whether we follow traditional routines or invent our own personalized versions, family traditions and celebrations help to weave a cohesive family identity. They are powerful factors in creating connection, creating and sharing fun, and opportunities to define who we are collectively as a family. Traditions can reflect both cultural practices as well as rituals unique to a specific family.
For example, we did treasure hunts which involved a lot of going up and down steep hills and culminated in the discovery of some hard-won trinkets followed by a “feast” and tired kids who welcomed bedtime! Our kids remember these hunts fondly and my son has decided his three-year-old is ready for his first! Treasure hunts started out as a way to have fun at the lake and have become an anchor point in our family lore. What fun activities from your childhood might you want to continue within your own family? What new ones might you create?
Even if you do not celebrate Halloween, pumpkin mania has overtaken us once again. They are featured on restaurant menus and seasonal items at the grocery store. Neighborhood pumpkin patches tempt us to choose the perfect candidate for carving. Here in Florida, pumpkin-carving is both fun and frustrating. The heat and humidity cause our jack-o-lanterns to last only a day or two before they crumble into a sodden, stinky, mildew-laden mess. Some still enthusiastically perform the ritual in the hopes that this year, they’ll last just a bit longer. Others take a more practical approach and opt for painting pumpkins which definitely prolongs their life.
How and what will you celebrate? Share your family traditions with us and we’ll post them for others to sample.
In our two previous posts we asked you to bring intentionality to time management as a way to create opportunities to be available to your family. We avoided the burden of piling additional items on your already overcrowded to do list. Instead we invited you to take on a new practice: detaching from all tech for 1-2 hours each day. Then, using two fundamental coaching attitudes--neutrality and experimentation--we simply observed what happened. (We reminded you to hold a mind- and heart-set of data collection not fault-finding or measuring up.)
Before we examine our results, recall a time when you saw a mobile hung over a baby's crib. Tiny shifts in the placement, weight or number of elements caused it to shift erratically until it settled down to a new balance point. In some ways, our family relationships are just like that. Tiny shifts in behavior, belief or language can interrupt entrenched patterns, This creates the space for a new way of being together.
Now we are ready to look at results. Suspend all judgment and expectation. Simply focus on what actually happened. What got in the way of holding the time sacred? What made it easy? What little shifts occurred? On whom did this make the biggest impact? Where and in whom did resistance show up? How might you refine the practice? What would make you consider continuing the practice? How did your self-talk shape your results?
I can think of dozens of questions to pose, each of which might generate a key element toward accomplishing important, positive change, but, I'll leave that for another time.
I trust that you can see the benefit of taking on a "practice" as a way of augmenting your commitment to intentional, adoption-attuned parenting. Once you develop the habit it is easy to create practices. Here are a few we've (GIFT family coaches) use/d in our own families.
Rabbit: On the first of each month if a person says "Rabbit" to someone, they capture that person's good luck for the month. When my kids were little and truly believed in magical events, they loved this practice. As adults they still follow it. To succeed in "getting" us, they resort to all sorts of trickery--like borrowing a friend's cell phone so we don't know it's them telephoning us.
Keep on Paddling: When our kids were young, we did a lot of canoeing and kayaking. Typical kids, they preferred to be passengers relaxing and enjoying the ride. My husband and I would have to remind them to "Keep on paddling." We felt it was important for them to learn to pull their own weight (and provide a chance for them to experience being capable.) We also wanted them to learn to contribute to the world, not simply lie back waiting for things to be given to them. Eventually, they learned to paddle.
When the teen years arrived, we faced crushing challenges including placing my son in residential treatment. Our letters, phone calls and visits always ended with, "Keep on Paddling." Now he is a happy, grown man, a father, spouse and a hard worker. We still say to one another "Keep on paddling." Our entire family has learned paddling is especially important when confronted by white water! (literally and metaphorically speaking.)
Home-made pizza night: When her children were little, one of my partners made homemade pizza on Sunday nights. This is a lot of work, so once they got older and life got even busier, she tried to cut back. Her kids pleaded for her to continue. Now her boys are both in their twenties. Still, when they get together, they still look forward to her pizza. Sometimes on a Sunday; sometimes another day; sometimes at her home; sometimes at their homes. Regardless of location, her boys clearly treasure this practice!
These are easy, sometimes silly practices, but over the years they've become threads woven into our family histories. They extend back through the years. I believe they will persist into the future with our children's own children. It's something we "do" that reflects our Family Values and is a legacy of which we can be proud.
What family traditions are you creating with your family? Which ones originated within your own or your spouse's family? Which did you invent?
Sally: 612-203-6530 | Susan: 541-788-8001 | Joann: 312-576-5755 | Gayle: 772-285-9607