Yesterday I began with some family rituals and ideas to help connect your family on a daily, weekly, special occasion basis. I am following up today with some additional ideas to help bring everyone together.
You can always set aside some personal time and journal, light a candle and listen to beautiful music, go on a walk all alone, etc. Society often makes us feel that it is not normal to want to have some alone time, but being alone is good for the soul. It helps you take the time to revitalize the body and connect with your spirit. Quiet time is quality time.
At any point in your day you can stop, light some candles, add bubbles or bath salts, quiet your mind and float in a warm bath. Relax. play pretty music and enjoy the candlelight. When done…blow out the candles and say Thank you. This is so wonderful for your children as well–helps them learn to appreciate self care.
My daughter did not enjoy bathing or showering, so I decided to make it a special occasion. I light a candle and tell her to relax and enjoy her time in the water. It definitely helps & she is always feeling better when she is done.
Birthday book: have a photo of the child/adult on the front of the album—inside have everyone–friends, guests, relatives, children write something special within the album (they could bring a photo to add to the album, a poem, quote, memory, etc)
Every year I make a special book for my daughter with pictures from the whole year. I write a special letter inside and make it special. I also try to make a DVD of special videos from the year. It makes a fun gift!
Half birthdays: Some families may find joy in creating a half birthday–some because a child’s birthday is during the summer and can’t celebrate it during the school year or many just want a party every six months. ideas: The child selects ONE present of their choice and they get to go out to a family dinner of their choice. You could also honor them with a half birthday cake or royal treatment for half the day.
Siblings: have siblings create a special card for the birthday. Dollar store gift item that represents sibling.
Birthday letter: Each year write a personal letter to the birthday recipient. You could include special letters from mom, dad, grandparents, siblings, etc. Give the book of letters to them on their 18th birthday.
Story of the child’s birth: Type it up and share it with your child every birthday.
Little fun ideas: fill their room with two dozen balloons while they sleep, so this is the first thing they see. Have a special thing you add to their cake—Little doll each year, specialty gift, piece of jewelry in cake…
Yearly Picture: Have a special article of clothing, a blanket, a special spot (on grandma’s swing, childhood chair) and take a picture each year in the same place, shirt, blanket, etc.
Include: Favorite birthday breakfast, surprise decorations, no chores or responsibilities for the day, do something they have always wanted to do, special dessert, dinner, etc.
Special School Lunch: check the child out of school on their birthday for a special birthday lunch.
Other cultural birthday ideas: In Mexico Pinatas are always fun for any festivity, in Argentina children get pulls on their earlobes for their birthday, in the middle east there is a special chair decorated with flowers and fun & the child is then lifting and raising it once for each year of life – plus one more for good luck!
Coming of Age: Many other cultures have ways to celebrate womanhood or manhood…here are a few ideas. Quinceañera is a celebration within the latin culture—it is a special party when a young woman is 15. It could have a theme, but a sweet sentiment is the passing of flat shoes to heels.
Or a special daddy/daughter dance OR Mother/son
Changing from child to adult comes with responsibility…you may want to have a special dinner and have a special handing over of more responsibility, a savings account, additional chores (laundry)etc.
Teaching and educating them through this transition is key…helping them make good decisions about their free time, friendships, and personal values. This is when they begin to leave the nest.
Special ritual: have friends and family sit in a circle (represents the flow of life, the never-ending circle of growth)–Have the mother and child hold hands (or joined with a ribbon) enter the circle and the mother says something like this.. “I brought you into this world and our spirits will be forever joined. However, up until this time, I have led you through life and you have listened to everything I said. If you are ready, then today our relationship changes, and I offer my guidance and ever lasting love, but know that you have started down your own path, and may not always listen. I do hope that our new relationship is one of trust, honesty and warmth. You can cut away our old relationship today, but I will always be here for you.”–break the hand holding chain to a loving hug or cut the ribbon as a symbol of change followed by a loving hug.
This might be a nice time for the song to be played or sang, or a prayer said, then the leader can invite everyone to come forward, take a flower from a vase and give it to the teen (who you have seated by now), and tell them what they wish for their future and adulthood.
I like this idea for Foster Kids as well.
Special Ritual: Invite friends and family (if you want). sit in a family circle. Light a pink candle to symbolize the groups love for the child. Begin by thanking the child for coming into this family. Go around the circle (starting with the parents) and have everyone talk about how important it is to have this child in the family and the community. Add feelings (change, worth, new beginnings, etc). Have everyone share something about themself to allow connection and have the new child share (if they want) something about them and their likes…
Appreciation Box: (for parents or child) Have a special box or basket on a specific day “Parents Day” or “Gotcha Day”—-the day a child arrives or a specific day of the year–celebrate with gifts of appreciation and love. The box or basket is placed outside the recipients door and everyone places gifts of love (put cookies, drawings, a letter, object of love, etc) into the box or basket throughout the day. A little twist: you could place the box outside the door in the early morning & everyone has to fill it before breakfast, then the recipient brings the basket into their room to look through & this clues everyone else to bring in breakfast in bed.
Anger Sticks, drum: (make them at family night)
When anger comes–encourage the feelings to be released–pound a pillow, cry, shout (not at others), beat the drum or stick…eventually the anger will fade. Then write down a list of what made your child, your spouse angry. Then together burn the list and release the anger.
Anger corner: Have an anger corner within your home with lots of pillows
Anger actions: Have your child do a special action when they are angry—Volcano, count to 10, etc. This worked really well when my daughter was a toddler and couldn’t express herself very well. I would have her shoot her arms into the air like a volcano and change her pattern of anger. It was great to see her switch from anger and focus on releasing it with her little actions.
Express through drawings: have your child draw or write a story about a person who gets mad and what makes them angry—this will help you understand what is upsetting your child.
Healing a fight:
Have a safe place in the home (fireplace mantel, specific shelf, a room, etc)
Make peace doves as a family–1 per person (paper, clay, magazine cut-out, ornament, etc) & put name on it.
After a fight or argument each person (on their own time) goes to the safe place and writes a letter or tape records their feelings–I feel angry because….. NOT “you’re mean. I hate you”
Then each person will turn their dove with their name facing out to symbolize that they wish to make peace (or you could have a small help sign next to the dove–to symbolize wanting to make peace)
The other person(s) involved can come and read the letter or listen to the recording and write their own.
They turn their dove over–which is a symbol that both with to make peace.
They make a time to talk and to make peace. Forgive and hug.
“Contemporary American families are entropic, meaning they drift toward falling apart,” says William Doherty, head of the Marriage and Family Therapy program at the University of Minnesota. “Rituals combat that entropy and help hold families together. Whenever you do a ritual, you are saying `No’ to other activities or people, and becoming what I call an intentional family. Most of us just drift into habits, doing what is most convenient. But ritualizing means to take a hold of activities and ask: does this meet the needs of our family? If it’s something like sitting in front of a TV night after night for dinner, then the answer is `No.’”
First day of school, first time driving, first job, new school, first sleep over, first speech….
Power Shirt: create a special power shirt that says “courage” or “confidence”–can be worn under clothes.
First day of school: give the ‘courage’ shirt with a stuffed lion and tell your little one “this shirt will help you feel courage and protect you”
New job: the ‘confidence” shirt will give power and confidence
New School Year: end of summer (or new year) light sparklers together as a family and do a special cheer to new friends, new school year—remind them of the special light within…shine on and be a light to all those they meet.
Have a special family blessing to bless each child as they enter their new year of school. You can have a special blessing chair or give them a special token of best wishes for their first day.
Sweet 16: Special dinner date with Dad/Mom(parents). Give a special piece of jewelry to symbolize letting go of childhood and growing toward becoming a adult.
Decorate their car with cans, signs, balloons in congrats to getting a license.
Cheers to you: Any successes, good grades, making the team, new job. Have a special dinner in honor of the accomplishment. GO around the table and have each person give a cheer of something positive, complimentary, nice about the person, the event, the achievement. Cheers to you!!
Family Tapestry/Project: Create a family tapestry, mosaic table, stone wall (each fabric tile, stone, piece of glass) represents a milestone in the family and is decorated and added to the family project.
Well, that is all I am going to leave you with today. I will continue with the family ritual ideas tomorrow. I will include great holiday ideas to share, so make sure you read my part III.
fyi: many of the ideas I share in the family rituals are taken from a variety of places like Barbara Bizou, Real Simple, Family Fun…I just hope a collection of these ideas will get you creating rituals and traditions with your family.
Happy day. Heather