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Family Ties and Transitions

What rituals do you practice to connect to loved ones, find peace, comfort?

Wow, summer is almost behind us and during the last few weeks I’ve been catching up with girlfriends and other moms and finding a mixed bag when it comes to the question, “How did it go?” 

Answers ranged from great family time, fabulous downtime, re-connections, to frazzled, too many meals on the fly and reeeeally ready for the school year to begin so things can return, if not to "normal," at least to a more manageable routine and schedule. (Moms Talk columnist Dyan Chan had a a couple weeks ago.)

As with pretty much anything in life, a solid foundation has a better chance of withstanding turbulence or disruption. So as our family goes through the inevitable changes, morphing, shifting, and evolving I find that my friends ahead of me in the journey as well as other resources invaluable for helping us with our journey.

We have and still do experience some murky moments and one of the many things that have helped us through is tapping into our foundation of rituals. Our whole family enjoys and finds comfort and stability in meaningful traditions which can be as simple as meals, or walking around the block, a stroll for ice cream, or the bedtime story.

With the beginning of a new school term right around the corner, it’s a great time to sprinkle the day, week, or month with practices or rituals that can help create the space for connection. Family meals can be a time to bond, create memories, deepen relationships, and build ties. Sharing meals together goes so much further than just getting food into our bodies. With planning and organization, we can reduce or eliminate the stress around meal prep and create meaningful rituals.

Check out The Family Dinner Project. It’s a great resource if you’re not connecting with your family as much as you’d like. They’ve got fun ideas to include in your family dinner, as well as conversation starters.

We’ve also found The Intentional Family; How to Build Family Ties in Our Modern World by William Doherty, useful for creating meaningful rituals that strengthened our family.

Robin Kuborssy August 15, 2012 at 09:55 PM
I am a single mom with an amazing daughter who will be going away to college in 4 weeks. We are really close, and we are both going through our emotional "life changes" from two different spectrums. I am finding that 'not sweating the small stuff', such as chores not being done, not cleaning up her messy room, and her not being home a lot is very important to the stability of our relationship. We have gone to a Giant's game, a couple of concerts, and plan to do some other things together before she leaves. Though I catch myself in tears often, I try not to let her see me cry. It happend last night at dinner, and we both were crying, which made me think that it's okay for us to FEEL. Spending quality time with your kids and ENGAGING in them is so crucial to a great relationship.....even when they are planning to leave for their new chapter in life.
Irene Aida Garza-Ortiz August 16, 2012 at 01:48 AM
Yeah, I can't believe a lot of schools have already started! When I was a kid August was still Summer Vacation Time! But things do change.
Mckenna Smith August 16, 2012 at 01:55 AM
For us it's our family vacations. We try to take 2 a year. We also agree with you on meal times that give us a chance to talk to our kids, say Grace and find out how everyones doing. Saturday day trips are also great and worshipping at MAss on Sundays together, holding hands.
Jennifer Croll August 16, 2012 at 05:14 AM
Fantastic resources for how to connect Tamara! When I was saying goodnight to my freshman son tonight (who is in the middle of Waterpolo "Hell Week"), I thought to myself, I only have 4 years left of dinnertime conversation. Thank you for giving us some tips to help us make the most of that time!
Dyan Chan August 16, 2012 at 05:38 AM
Yes, I think the problem with summer is that we (in my family) let all our routines go out the window! If we don't even keep up with our routines, they can never become traditions! Hopefully we're learning. :)
Tamara Archer August 16, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Yes, some started this week, ours start next week, and then there's the college crowd where many aren't starting still after Labor Day or late September. Transitions of all kinds...
Tamara Archer August 16, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Thank you so much for thrashing the experience with your daughter. I've certainly heard many times over the years to 'not sweat the small stuff' and it can be one of my challenges so a great reminder of what success looks like. Congratulations on your journey so far and enjoy the season!
Tamara Archer August 16, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Those are great rituals. Another one can be each person saying something they are grateful for in their day as well as something they appreciate or value in another member of the family. Thank you for sharing yours.
Tamara Archer August 16, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Boy, you're so right, the time does fly by! One of my daughter's and my favorite bedtime rituals is to do our Top 10 list. We share with each other our top 10 gratitudes for the day. It varies from the delicious roasted tomato bisque, to a great haircut, to our health, to the generosity and kindness of a stranger. It really helps us complete our day and notice how blessed we are.
Tamara Archer August 16, 2012 at 04:59 PM
We definitely are more free flowing in the summer and some routines definitively get lost in the shuffle but as the schedule for school comes back into play, we're able to reengage and it's that touchstone that helps with the transition and reconnected newly but in a familiar way. My kids have been my biggest teachers in the area of letting go, being in the moment and appreciating always. Thanks for your comment!
Laura Ricksecker August 16, 2012 at 06:19 PM
So nice that you gave us tips AND additional resources for family time. Thanks Tamera!
Ivy Daley August 16, 2012 at 06:31 PM
With two teenage daughters, one going to college in a couple of weeks, I often think they will be on their own someday and will have to make meals for themselves and hopefully their own families. I am of greek descent, therefor my mother cooked a lot of traditional greek food. Every time I prepare one of her recipes, I make sure both my daughters help in every step so they can remember and continue these fabulous family recipes handed down from previous generations. That is our way of bonding and keeping valuable traditions alive. @Robin, I cry too just thinking about it. Good luck!

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