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Family Traditions: Fostering a Sense of Being and Belonging

By Heaven Nen

For generations, families have practised traditions that are a reflection of their belief systems, values and interests. These traditions vary from family to family, but one commonality remains - they are a powerful tool used to foster a sense of belonging in children. Over time, children may carry these traditions right into adulthood and then later, pass them down to their own children. However, through social interactions and the formation of extra-familial relationships throughout their lives, there can be a clash of these pre-established traditions. How do children maintain their sense of being and belonging in these cases?

Family traditions, which vary in different contexts, are influenced by cultural, religious, geographical and other factors. They are symbolic of things which are of importance to a family. From Sunday fishing, to passing down items of significance throughout generations, like wedding garments, they signify things of sentimental value to each person in a different way. This adhering to family traditions also creates a bond through shared experiences.

Growing up, children want to feel as though they belong. Through family traditions, feelings of consistency, love, care and togetherness are fostered and allow children to feel a part of something. Moreover, children acquire a basic understanding of who they are as an individual within their family setting. Active participation in these traditions creates a sense of fulfilment in children. They feel that they have now added to the creation of new, long-lasting memories that are to live on within a family. That in turn, creates a sense of purpose in this belonging - asserting purposeful intention.

Whether consciously or unconsciously, children gravitate towards wanting to feel accepted and often times sacrifices are made to attain this acceptance. For instance, children may abandon many traditions or customs that they have held dearly to them for a long time, in order to fit in. In other words, they pay a price to belong in their new environment to avoid disruption. Losing a familiar part of themselves may diminish their sense of individuality and being. Another example may be, when children choose not to follow family traditions to create an environment more suitable to their wellbeing.

Family traditions are used to continue thriving in a desired environment at a specific time with specific people. This means that, when a context changes, traditions and ways of doing things may have to change as well. For example, when a child grows up and decides to start their own family, new traditions are formed. Does this mean that children who are growing up have to completely abandon what they know and feel comfortable with? No, it means, creating new memories and becoming comfortable with the changes that follow. What is most important is to stay in touch with the values that are attached to why family traditions exist in the first place. They are there to provide stability and strong positive memories. So, it is not what a family does that is the most valuable but why it is being done. Ultimately, traditions come to help define a child and locate that child within a family and a wider tribe or culture.


Shutterfly Community.13 Fun Family Traditions: Examples And Ideas.Shutterfly. November, 6 2018 (,and%20therefore%20reflect%20the%20history%20of%20that%20ancestry.

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