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Sunshine Parenting

Dec 27, 2019

In this episode, Sara Kuljis and I discuss the importance of family rituals and traditions. It's one of the topics that we wanted to cover with parents in our Raise Thriving Kids Workshop that we had in September.

Big Ideas

  • Family Rituals and traditions are important because they:
    • help build a sense of shared identity and deep belonging.
    • help us organize and make sense of an ever-changing world.
    • help teach and impact faith and family values. They may remind us of our cultural backgrounds.
    • provide safe spaces and anchors in an ever-changing world.
    • help us cope with trauma and loss.
    • produce amazing memories, the silly and the sacred.
  • Talk to your kids about what traditions are important to them and let them come up with their own.


Sara: "It has been remarkable to watch how important, year after year, the daily rituals and traditions of summer camp are to our campers and to our staff. I dove in and did quite a bit of research on this and was struck by how profoundly shaping rituals and traditions are in our family cultures."

Sara: "In our fast-paced world, where people travel for work, where families are going in different directions more often, where we don't necessarily live by extended family, many of the rituals and traditions are falling by the wayside. Kids have fewer of these anchor points than they used to back in the day."

Sara: "There are things that stay the same when lots of other things are changing and it really does give us a sense of structure and stability and addresses our longing for simpler things and things you can count on. I think that's very important to kids, especially as they're growing, changing schools, maybe moving homes. Maybe family dynamics are changing, but I can count on tradition."

Audrey: "People like that security of know that things are as they were. Kids need structure, they need to know when bedtime is, but they equally need the ritual of being tucked in and having someone say prayers with them or say goodnight to them or whatever the tradition is in your family."

Sara: "Children want boundaries. They want a frame around the picture. As they are figuring out how to live life, they really crave discipline. So structure and traditions add to that and it creates a sense of safety and knowing what to expect."

Audrey: "You almost don't realize some of the practices that you do or don't do that are traditions.  It is anything that you do that is part of your family's life. So many of our rituals are communicating our values."

Sara: "There are a lot of life skills, really practical stuff, that are embedded in traditions that are helpful for our kids. Traditions provide us safe spaces and anchors in an ever-changing world. The more change, the more rituals and traditions we need."

Audrey: "When things are tumultuous, you just want these touchstones of things that are still going to happen, that you can depend on still being there, regardless of what else has changed."

Sara: "I urge you to look back and think about the rituals built into your family. What are the memories that came out of that? What glue to bond a family and help you get through some of the bumpy times."

Audrey: "Sometimes when you're in it, you don't realize that those are traditions. If there's something that you do as a family that's really fun or memorable, why not repeat it each year?"

Sara: "As you think of the traditions in your own family, sometimes it feels like a lot of pressure. The big things are awesome but sometimes it's just the daily flow of life things that provide even more anchoring."

Audrey: "Returning to camp itself, or to the vacation places where your family likes to go, year after year, will help to bring calm back to the storm of life."

Audrey: "Rituals and traditions are just something that can be going on all year, every day or every weekend or whatever, Friday night, movie night, a Saturday morning hike -- it could be anything."


Find out about our next Raise Thriving Kids Workshop

100 Family Memories

5 Simple Year-End Reflection Activities


If you liked this podcast episode, listen to:

Ep. 7: Family Pace and Space with Sara Kuljis

Ep. 23: Peaceful Mornings with Sara Kuljis

Ep. 63: Growing Gratitude with Sara Kuljis

Ep. 70: Parent on Purpose with Amy Carney