There is a simple joy and a cozy ease that comes with family traditions. Whatever stage we are in through life – when school, jobs or friends are chaotic, family traditions are remarkably familiar and blissfully comfortable.
Family has changed over the last 50 years. A large study by Pew entitled Parenting in America echoes that sentiment and goes into detail about what the modern family looks like versus what it looked like 50 years ago and why. In it, it says that two-parent households are declining while divorce, remarriage and cohabitation are on the rise. Family size is also shrinking as couples decided to have kids later in life. And the sole breadwinner being dad? Well that has morphed to reflect a growing number of women in the workforce. Today, 40% of families with children under 18 at home have mothers who earn the majority of the family income. Now add blended families, households who have extended family members living with them and the rise of single parents, and suddenly family has a whole new meaning then it did a half a century ago.
But just because the dynamics have changed doesn’t make the role of family any less important in our lives and the lives of our youth. One of the ways family plays a critical part of who we are is through traditions.
Traditions are special because they are our own weird, wonderful, funny, sentimental parts of our tribe; they belong specifically to us and our people. We look forward to them, laugh at them, maybe even roll our eyes at them, but when they aren’t there, something is missing. For kids both young and older, traditions can create a sense of security, even a tradition as simple as eating together.
Of course, being the holidays, family traditions are in full swing with so many ideas to choose from like when dad hangs the lights to what Aunt Karen brings to dinner to how your family skips the holidays all together and gets out of dodge. These inherited rituals ground us and remind us that we are part of something bigger, connecting us to the familiar and colorful when our lives can be chaotic and challenging.