When my children were young, it was often difficult to find time that we could all sit down together for a meal. With four children, many activities, school, homework, and day-to-day appointments, practices, and the whirlwind of friends in and out, family time was limited.
So, I decided to create a family tradition.
It was based on the idea of using a talking stick. Once a week, when possible, we would have a formal dinner in the dining room (away from the traditional kitchen table). Instead of feeding the children first and then sending them off to finish out the evening doing their own things, I would fix a full course meal and we all sat down together.
The first thing we would do is join hands and just take a moment of gratitude, sitting in stillness so the days’ energies would settle. Then, I would choose a child to start with and ask what their favorite part of the day was. They would proceed to share something, sometimes many things, that made their day fun, joyful and memorable. Next, I would ask them if there was anything bothering them or if they were having difficulty with something. Sometimes they would pass on these questions, other times they would share what was on their mind.
The wonderful thing about this tradition is, it brought the family together and taught the kids many life lessons that have enabled them to be productive adults.
It was really awesome when they all wanted to be first. Sometimes they would try to rush the others so they could get their turn, lol. Their dad and I also took the opportunity to share, as I felt it important the kids could connect with us as not just their parents, but also as humans.
Eventually, it evolved to where my oldest would pull out his saxophone and we would all be entertained by his music.
Life Lessons learned:
- Holding space for another person so they can be heard is important
- Having a voice benefits not only the self but others as well
- Not keeping everything (good or bad) inside, expressing both joys and sorrows is cathartic
- Adults are no different than “I” am, just a little older and wiser
- We can bring joy to others through the things we love and have a passion for
- A knowing that I can “speak” and not be judged
I believe, that since my children have had this experience, it has helped them to relate to others better. They seem to be able to have compassion towards anyone who may be struggling and openly talk to me about their lives.
A family tradition is a great way to teach, learn and grow. It does not need to be anything extravagant, it just needs to be a positive experience.
Do you have any family traditions? I would love to hear about them!