Grandparenting Tips – How to Build Family Traditions
While every person is in many ways unique, what we all have in common is that we are part of a family. That family may be large or small, closely knit, or spread out and fragmented. Some of those we were especially close to are no longer with us, while there may be recent new additions to the family. Many families today are blended — a joining together of different races, religions, and cultures.
Homes with single parents, grandparents, or other non-traditional caretakers have also become increasingly common. But whatever the composition of the family unit, the basic need of everyone in it to love and be loved remains intact.
Why Family Traditions Are Important
Regardless of upbringing, the family traditions we grew up with have had a profound effect on how we view the world. Some traditions we may choose to continue to uphold as adults; others get abandoned in favor of something different. But either way, the vivid memories stay with us and enhance our sense of belonging.
As a person over 60, how can you not have at least some comforting memories of treasured moments between you and other members of your family? Now, if you are also a grandparent, you have a great opportunity to add more wonderful memories to the mix.
Family traditions help cement the bonds that physical separation, diverse interests and activities, and hectic schedules can potentially compromise. What kinds of traditions do you and your family still practice? And would you like to add more? It’s never too late to tell your grown children that you would like to resurrect some favorite family traditions from earlier years or start some new ones.
New Family Traditions to Consider
Here are a few great ideas you might consider for your family, if you haven’t already thought of them.
- Sunday morning pancakes
- Leisurely walks
- Game night
- Attending a concert, play, or sporting event
- Attending religious services together
- Volunteering together
- Yearly family portraits
- Family baking and decorating for birthdays and holidays
- Special gatherings to watch family videos
- Annual family vacations
Family Holiday Traditions
Holiday time, for most of us, is family time. It is a great time to reconnect with family members, old and young, whom you haven’t seen in a while, and to reminisce and exchange stories. Family members gathering around the table for a big holiday feast and exchanging festively wrapped gifts are other popular traditions. The gifts needn’t be lavish or expensive; it’s the thought that counts.
Speaking of gifts, there are many people who are far less fortunate than you. So don’t just think about your holiday needs. Reach out and volunteer to help make this special time of year a little brighter for a child or elderly person who is sick, hungry, or alone. Showing gratitude and love are what the holidays are all about.
Establishing Your Own Traditions
Even if family circumstances limit your ability to carry on long-standing traditions, the problem is easily fixed. You and your children and grandchildren can start new traditions.
Traditions in My Family
Writing this article had me looking back at some of the family traditions I grew up with, as well as those I still observe. The exercise really made me appreciate my wonderful family, past and present. I then asked my sister, Lucy, mother of 6 and grandmother of 11 (and yet she has no trouble remembering all of their birthdays), if she could do the same, and she responded enthusiastically. Despite being sisters, we don’t think exactly alike, so between the two of us, I have more than enough material for another whole article. Look for my follow up post soon on how we keep the family traditions important to us alive.
First, I hope all of you readers who are grandparents take me up on my closing suggestion here for a new family tradition that I think you will love. But you’ll have to act quickly because this one-time event is coming up very soon!
September 8, 2013 is Grandparents Day!
If Mom and Dad both have a special commemorative day, why shouldn’t you? So remind your adult children that September 8, 2013 is “Grandparents Day.” Show them this article, suggesting that they help your grandchildren plan something special to show how much they appreciate you. Maybe you will be the speechless but smiling recipient of breakfast in bed, a handmade card, song, or other special surprise the creativity of your children and grandchildren conjure up. Grandparents Day is your own special day and you deserve it!
What traditions have you established in your family? What other grandparenting tips would you offer to the members of the community? Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section below.
Watch my interview with Barbara Nathan for more grandparenting tips.