Family traditions. We all have them. If asked, we could recall them quite readily; both those from our childhood as well as adults with our own families. Some of our childhood traditions have invoked such positive emotions in us, we have adopted them to continue with our children.
As it's less than a month before we celebrate Christmas and our family put up our Christmas tree tonight, I thought I'd write a short blog on family traditions, share some of ours and give my reasons why it's particularly important for blended families to create traditions as soon as possible.
HOLIDAYS,QUALITY TIME & ANNIVERSARIES
When Tony and I were married and blended an instant family of five with number six added 10 months later, we were determined to create new traditions. We knew this was especially important for our children who were 7, 5 and 30 months at the time of our wedding. They had gone from a single parent family of 2 or 3 and much of their sole parent's attention to having another parent and step siblings to share with their biological parent. As well as adopting my family's tradition of a yearly family holiday to a location somewhere in Australia,which has enriched our family with great memories, we needed to ensure our biological children would be able to spend one on one time with Tony and I as well.
This has manifested in a number of ways. I've taken them shopping or to a movie, out for a meal or even just a hot drink. Tony may complete a project with them or visit with a family member.They may have had a day absent from school and spent the day with me doing many and varied tasks or nothing much at all. But the ministry of presence, of giving them our full attention without the others in our family around for a while, has been invaluable for our relationships.
Each wedding anniversary is made into a special occasion for Tony and I. We try to go away for a night or a weekend, indulge in a fabulous meal or two and give each other treats and gifts reserved only for this celebration. We figured out very early on in our marriage, that blending a family is VERY HARD WORK so each year in, we celebrate the fact that, by God's grace, we are still married!
FAMILY DEVOTIONS and CHURCH
One of our family's traditions is to make a special trip at the end of each year to our main Christian bookshop in the city.Our children have come to know this tradition involves each of them choosing a new devotional book for themselves ready for the year ahead.
While we know how imperative it is for our children to see us dedicating an amount of time each day in personal devotional time and to role model this spiritual discipline, it is equally important for us as their parents to instill this in them as well. As the old saying goes, "God has no grandchildren", Christian parents must not fall into the tragic mistake of believing their children will naturally read their bibles, pray and spend time learning the ways of the Lord without our help, guidance and encouragement. Our children have come to expect us to ask them from time to time 'How's your quiet times going?' or 'What's the Lord been saying to you lately'?
Another tradition (or habit?) we have is family devotional time around a meal at the table or in the family room. Although such times are not set in stone, our hope is that our children, when they have homes and families of their own will remember our family devotions tradition and carry it on into the next generation.
From the earliest time that they could comprehend their surroundings, church attendance and service to God's people have helped define what we do together as a family unit. Although it has always grieved me our children are unable to go to church weekly due to their contact arrangement with their other parent, they know full well that unless we are sick or away on a holiday or trip, they will be going to church with us each fortnight and when they reach an appropriate age, will volunteer some of their time and talents to serving in the church worship service.
Family traditions are important. They create memories. They instill a sense of belonging. They distinguish one family from another. They give a sense of security. They build trust and hope. The right ones can produce a foundation for your childrens' maturity development, creating in them sound patterns for life and living with others. Families have traditions. It's what they do. Blended families and single parent families should be no different- they are families too! And your children need to know this important fact!
Our prayer as both parents and spouses would be that whatever traditions we have either adopted or created, would be for the benefit of our children and marriage and will bring glory to God.