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

As your children get older, or when things change a lot, some family rituals 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 or suggesting new ones is a good idea as family needs change over time. It’s also good to think about the rituals you’d like to keep.

Tips for changing family rituals

Sometimes new rituals involve finding new ways of spending time together. For example, you might love baking cakes with your child on Saturday afternoons, but he wants to hang out with his friends or has sporting commitments. In this situation, you could talk with your child about what he’d enjoy doing with you instead.

Sometimes it’s about finding a compromise that works for both you and your child. For example, maybe your child wants to have her birthday party with friends instead of family. The compromise could be having parties for family and friends on different days.

If a tradition the whole family used to enjoy isn’t working, you can ask your children to come up with new ideas and make a few suggestions of your own. 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, or changing Saturday morning breakfast together to Sunday if your child gets a part-time job on Saturdays.

You can set some guidelines for new rituals, 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.  

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Last updated or reviewed
15-11-2017

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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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