Don’t underestimate the power of placing that ornamental display in the exact same place on the mantel every December.
Don’t disregard the importance of getting the string of pink hearts out of the closet on February 14th.
Don’t second guess the practice of maintaining a designated spot at the dinner table for each family member every night. And continue this practice even as children move into the teenage years. Be prepared, though. It may be met with groaning, moaning and cries of injustice, but do it anyway.
That hug every day when they leave for school, the note in the lunchbox, that little funny saying before bed — whatever you have in place in your home regarding loving rituals and routines, kudos to you, and keep it up! Families can undergo so many changes, new jobs, relocation, friends and family coming and going, illness, death, financial struggles, and all are out of the child’s control. In a world of unpredictable and sometimes just plain scary events children need to know that somewhere there is some continuity and predictability through it all. These routines also cement the benefits of nostalgia described here by Clay Routledge Ph.D., social psychologist and author of ‘More Than Mortal.’
“Nostalgia helps people prioritize social goals and engage in more social behavior. That is, nostalgia brings online the social self. It reminds people of meaningful social connections and increases efforts to pursue new opportunities to meaningfully connect with others. Nostalgia has also been shown to increase feelings of inspiration and charitable giving. In short, nostalgia energizes people.”
So, for our children loving family rituals help maintain feelings of security, provide a sense of self and are a constant reminder that someone knows and cares for them. During tough times, when a child, and especially a teenager perceives that everything is falling apart around them, they will have these loving rituals and routines at home to help ground them, preserving both their identity, and their trust in the goodness of this world. And as they move on from the home, the sense of nostalgia will continue to serve them as they look more optimistically toward their future.
About the author
She taught students with special needs as well as those in general education. While working with hundreds of parents over the years, she discovered that there was a significant lack of resources and educational opportunities to help them navigate the many demands of parenting today. For this reason, in 2013 she founded The Purposeful Parent, offering workshops and resources for parents, teachers, and caregivers.