Creating a Family Love Culture, Unique Traditions and Rituals
Written By: Catherine Osborne
It’s February, the month we celebrate matters of the heart. Love is in the air but so is our obsession with hearts, cards and flowers. Our cultural expectations have become increasingly consumer drive and laced with chocolate. While all of that is fine, I want more when it comes to expressions of love within my family. Some substance perhaps…
When my son and two friends burst through the door, cheerful and starving, they were grateful to accept an invitation to join our family for dinner. The ensuing banter was easy-going but raucous. One boy was a newcomer; the other was a regular, and well familiar with the daily rhythms of our family.
The telltale vibration of an incoming text brought our conversation to an abrupt halt. Fishing his cell phone from his pocket, our new friend began to reply. To my delight, our regular friend hissed, “You better put that phone away or she’s gonna take it from you!” Even my son’s friends know that electronic devices are not welcome at our table. Slightly embarrassed, he tucked his pone away. Our loud and spirited conversationresumed without further electronic interruption. Or so I thought… Later, I heard him remarking how cool it is that we all sit down together for dinner. He added that it was even worth the four calls he missed during dinner!
One evening with us, and our new friend had a pretty clear idea of our family identity. I couldn’t help but wonder, what exactly had he seen? Reflecting back to that evening, he would have noted that our interactions were boisterous, yet respectful. Our non-negotiable rules about electronic devices were obvious, yet plainly accepted by all. The “culture” of our family, which comprised all the rituals, norms and traditions that we practice, was blatantly obvious, even to our young friend. My children would simply shrug and say, “It’s just the way we do things around here.”
This young friend of my son taught me a little something about love. Not just any love, but family love. A day fully immersed with our family caused him to remark, “Hey I like the way your family does things!” He had witnessed our unique culture of love. Loving, tightly knit families work hard to foster a positive culture. In addition to providing their children with an identity, a loving culture offers a sense of belonging and a wonderful source of support when difficult times arise. The beliefs that children hold about right and wrong generally reflect the values and beliefs of their own family culture.
Despite the changing lifestyles that characterize modern society, the family remains the central feature of contemporary life. In recent times, the family structure has undergone significant change. There is no right or wrong when it comes to all the variations in family structure; as long as a family has a culture of love, it can thrive. Families that love and support each other can do so in virtually any type of family arrangement. Individual family cultures clearly define their own values. These may include respect, support, generosity, fun, health or hard work. In a family that values health, all members know that chocolate for breakfast just isn’t going to fly.
Everyone in the family knows the value of good nutrition, so healthy meals are just standard fare. That’s just the way they do things. A set of rules, which guide family interactions and behaviors is important. These can include guidelines on conflict resolution, bedtime rituals, chores or rules surrounding technology use. Each member is clear on the limits of what is permissible.
Family culture usually includes unique traditions and rituals. Family meals together, rites of passage, pizza nights, holiday celebrations, all offer a sense of connectedness.
So what exactly did our young friend teach me about love? He drove home for me the notion that a culture of love truly exists in our family. As with many things that we value, this loving culture requires attention, practice and constant reinforcement. The fact that our culture was so plainly visible to our young friend gives me great satisfaction. Now our young friend, who has since become a regular in our home, happily leaves his phone in his coat pocket, and has been known to chirp at any newcomers, “Hey watch out! No phones at the table. That’s just how they do things around here!”
About Catherine Osborne
Catherine Osborne is certified coach, speaker and writer who owns and operates UpShift Coaching. Catherine is an Adler trained, ICF Certified Professional Coach whose areas of expertise include Retirement, Leadership and Wellness Coaching. With a background in healthcare as an Occupational Therapist, Catherine is well suited to meet the wellness needs of her clients. As a mid-life woman, mother, business owner and part-time empty nester, Catherine brings a wealth of real-life experience to her clients and is well prepared to coach people from all walks of life. Catherine’s talent for developing strong and trusting relationships allows her to provide a safe, confidential environment for clients to explore unlimited possibilities.
Photography: Ginelle Lago GMN Artistic