166 // Do Your Family Rituals Still Serve?

For the most part, when we engage in rituals, we do so without much thought. That’s the thing about rituals – they often feel so natural that we don’t question them or even consider them “rituals.” Routines and traditions include holidays, weddings, weekly dinners, graduations, reunions, movie nights, and other rituals specific to your culture, religion, and type of relationship.

In today’s episode, James explores how the pandemic has changed our rituals and how we can adjust them to make sure they still serve.

 

Rituals Are Created In Interaction

Rituals are voluntary, recurring, patterned communication events by which people in close relationships honor what they regard as sacred (see Rothenbuhler, 1998) Wolin & Bennett, 1984). This definition is a mouthful—what does it mean?

First, rituals are social.

Rituals aren’t the habits you do on your own, like making your morning coffee or working out at the end of the day. They are centered on interaction, the primary process that makes us human. In our rituals, we honor what we regard as sacred, meaning that which is deeply meaningful for us.

Second, rituals are patterned.

Think about the holidays – when your celebration takes place, who’s invited to participate, the order of events, the food and drinks, gifts exchanged, and how you are expected to interact usually happens the same way each time.

Third, through our different routines and traditions, we create and (ideally) strengthen the identity of the relationship or family.

 

What Happens When You Want to Change Family Rituals?

There are times when family rituals need to change because the rituals feel more negative than positive. If you want to enact change in your rituals, ask yourself these questions…

What do your rituals represent and reflect about your identity and needs?
What is the best way to get input from those involved in your rituals?

Sometimes though, even positive rituals call for a readjustment.

Children grow up, friends move away, family members pass and new ones are born – these shifts might start to inspire change in your family rituals. For most of us, the pandemic started a domino effect changing many of our rituals.

If your family rituals need some revitalizing, listen to the full podcast episode above!

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