(3rd Rituals Blog by Sabina Read 5/5/17)
It’s a simple fact that we were all children once, but how quickly we adults forget what the world looked like through the lens of a child or teen. Over time, our natural and innate curiosity and joy can wain as we become peppered with the influence of judgement, comparisons, yearnings and responsibilities.
As a reader of this blog, it’s likely you value and desire a peaceful and strong family unit. If this assumption is correct, I invite you to take a couple of minutes now to travel back in time to remember a positive memory from your own childhood. Shut your eyes and explore the potent senses that may help bring the happy recollection back to life.
For some readers, this may prove challenging as their default lens automatically searches for the regrets, hurts, injustices and disappointments that family life delivered. For others, the exploration may quickly uncover special times on holidays or memorable milestones. But for many readers, positive memories will be found in the simple, seemingly unremarkable, rituals that were shared and practiced with parents and siblings. The shared meals, outings, games, songs or activities that were repeatedly practiced, that brought a sense of belonging and meaning to family life.
While the child-within may not have formally identified these favourable memories as rituals, it’s likely we intuitively reaped the benefits that sharing rituals brought to our sense of belonging and developing identify, and their meaningful contribution to our much-needed stability and connectedness during inevitable periods of stress, transition or uncertainty.
There is an abundance of research supporting the importance of rituals in conveying “this is who we are” as a family (see previous two blogs and fact sheet on the FPF website). However, cultivating, practicing and cherishing rituals is simple and possible for each of us; and can be easily accessed with a pair of empathetic child-like glasses and an open-mind. These alone can help us sift through our own memory banks, scanning for simple ritualistic practices that mattered most to the little person that resides within each of us.
By identifying and practicing some of the rituals that filled up our own cup as a child, we can assume that re-creating them with our own children may have the same positive impact on them, and the unborn children and grand-children to follow. But if you’re unsure which rituals served you well as a child, or you’re ready to turn over a new ritualistic leaf, why not ask the younger people in your home what they like to do again and again as a family. Just because you’re the adult now, doesn’t mean you are expected to have all the answers. What matters more is that you have the right questions, and the child-like curiosity to ask them to your children today.