Friday night was always Family Game Night at our house. It was a tradition. From Dominoes to Pool to Monopoly, you'd better bring your "A" game and a good sense of humor! My parents were world-class game players.
One of the cornerstones of family culture is the traditions you embrace and honor throughout the year. If you think back to your childhood you probably have fond memories surrounding specific practices or beliefs that were repeated at regular intervals. You identify these traditions whenever you say things like, 'We always have waffles on Christmas morning. The phrase 'we always' is an indicator of a family tradition. 'We always watch fireworks on the 4th of July.'
These traditions build strong connections between family members and promote a sense of belonging to this special group of people. Children find security and safety in an environment that consistently provides positive and predictable experiences. Many of these traditions naturally occur around major holidays and religious occasions. However, sports can also provide opportunities for creating meaningful traditions that your kids will pass along to their children.
Here are some tips for creating your memorable traditions:
1. There is no correct number of traditions. Too few traditions make it difficult to feel unified, and too many dilutes meaningfulness.
2. Decide what goal you're trying to accomplish with a new tradition.
3. Determine what activities are included and with what frequency.
4. Include every family member in your traditions and be sensitive to the needs of all family members.
To get you started, here are some examples of sports-family traditions.
Family Goal Setting: A pencil and paper exercise at the end of a season to create realistic goals for next season.
Family Pro-Game Outing: A trip to watch a local professional level team or athlete perform as a source of inspiration and entertainment.
Special Meal: Enjoying each child's favorite meal in connection with a milestone or special victory.
All-Family Game: A fun event in which everyone attempts to play some aspect of your child's favorite sport… just for laughs. (i.e. The Annual Family Swim Meet or Soccer Game)
Start a new tradition this summer or fall. Listen for laughs and observe the camaraderie that it fosters with your kids. With everyone involved, the creativity and the meaningfulness of your rituals will bring the whole family together.