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The importance of family rituals

November 26, 2018 GMT

One friend remembers singing songs from the musical Annie with her family on holidays. Another remembers the special way her mother said goodnight each evening with the same words that became a soothing mantra.

I remember how my parents walked me to my car whenever I left, enveloping me in hugs. They waved until I was out of sight.

Yes, I was looking.

These are our warm memories — our family rituals, the connections that keep us glued together.

Rituals provide safety, calm and belonging. Routines provide structure, and rituals provide nurture. Both are necessary.


Rituals are the activities that children can expect when certain things happen. There can be a goodbye ritual at drop-off and a welcome-home ritual at pickup.

When a family member is not present at a gathering, there can be a ritual to recognize their absence.

Morning rituals can unite us and create the tone for the day. Bedtime rituals lull us into sleep. We excitedly look forward to holiday rituals — including special food — throughout the year.

Sanctification, the third of three concepts for living brought forward by Wendy Mogel in her book The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, is “the process of acknowledging the holiness in everyday actions and events.” It is this level of presence that adds to the value of rituals.

In turn, rituals sanctify our lives. Our homes become sacred places for us. Our dinner tables become places for gratitude. Our teaching moments with our children become times of safety.

Maggie Macaulay is the owner of Whole Hearted Parenting, offering coaching, courses and workshops. Contact her at 954-483-8021 or Maggie@WholeHeartedParenting.com. Visit her website at WholeHeartedParenting.com.