Modern life can create distance from our traditions, family rituals and ability to create healthy expectations and relationships with our children.
A 50-year study by the American Psychological Association has shown that routines and rituals are important for – and may even improve – the health and wellbeing of families. The study found that rituals “are powerful organisers of family life that offer stability during times of stress and transition”.
For children, rituals serve to generate a feeling of belonging to their nuclear family and to the generations that came before and will follow them.
Children like things to be predictable and consistent. This is why we find ourselves reading the same bedtime story over and over, or repeating the same game – it makes them feel safe and contained.
Modern life has us bringing work home with us, and technology makes it easy to access that urgent email, answer that important phone call, send that crucial SMS… But far from being our friend, technology is often the foe that creates distance in our relationships.
Professionals agree that screen time infringes on quality family time and meaningful interaction.
When even one family member is preoccupied with his computer, cell phone or TV screen, bonds are broken and relationships compromised.
We’ll never return to the pre-computer and satellite television days, but it’s possible to create a technology-free oasis of calm and connection within the family unit.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE
“The best way for parents to teach their children is by example. They should switch off their phones, laptops or TV and spend time interacting and paying attention to each other. The family should aim for at least 20 minutes a day free of technology,” recommends life coach Michele Frew.
DAILY: Screen-free meal times, uninterrupted car time and fully present homework assistance time.
WEEKLY: Walks or outings to the park or zoo, make-your-own pizza night, family movie night (at the cinema or at home).
MONTHLY: Each family member has a turn to choose an activity.
ANNUALLY: Follow your family’s tradition (or create your own) of celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and religious festivals. Make the ritual as important as the event.
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