Sometimes family rituals need to change as children grow up. If something isn’t working any more, letting your child suggest something new often works well. Family meetings can also be a good way of working out changes that involve the whole family.

Why family rituals might change

When things change a lot, some family rituals and routines might need to change too.

Maybe your son no longer wants to be kissed goodbye in the schoolyard or your daughter wants to read her own bedtime stories. Bedtime could be getting later and later as your child gets older, or you might be about to have another baby. You and your partner might separate, or you might meet a new partner who becomes part of your life. 

Being open to changing your family’s existing rituals and routines or suggesting new ones is a good idea as family needs change over time. 

Tips for changing family rituals

Although you might love baking cakes with your son on Saturday afternoons, he might want to hang out with his friends. Talk with him about what he’d enjoy doing with you instead. Be ready to try new ways of spending time together.

Sometimes it might involve a complete rethink. Maybe your children want to have their birthday party with friends instead of family. Finding a compromise that works for you and your children, like agreeing to parties for friends every second year, might suit you better. 

If a tradition the whole family used to enjoy isn’t working, you can ask your children to come up with other ideas, and put forward a few suggestions of your own. You can also set some parameters if you want, like:

  • the maximum the activity can cost
  • how often the activity occurs
  • which night or day is best for you all.
Letting go when things don’t work anymore will keep you and your family closer than if you force a family tradition because you really love it. It might be as simple as agreeing to change pizza night to Sunday instead of Saturday because your children want to go to friends’ houses for sleepovers.

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Raising Children Network is supported by the Australian Government. Member organisations are the Parenting Research Centre and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute with The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health.

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