Family traditions define us. They make us feel a part of something. I think about how I was raised and then I think about how I was raised. We were raised camping. We were backpackers. We always worked on the subdivision, we hunted, and we backpacked. My mother did not going backpacking with us. We were all required to take hunter’s ed. My Dad put all our names in for the draw. If your name was in for the draw and it was drawn you went.
We lived where my Dad’s parents lived. They were non-tradition people. They were late. Tanner’s were late to everything! It was supposed to start at 6 and it was 8 and nothing happened. My Mom was livid. She bowed out and said I will not do that anymore. My Dad was not involved in the tradition process nor the parenting process. He was a master parent for teenagers. He did the work and play traditions.
I remember when I was about 10 my Mom starting ‘this’ and beginning to change. She didn’t do logical consequences. She was a yeller. I remember as things began to change. As I watched her determine what she wanted to do in our home the husband was 100% supportive, but not involved.
I married a guy that came from a divorced family and his Dad was not in the home. My thought process is…I’ll be able to do what I want as I parent because that is what I saw. I have a husband that really wanted to share input. I didn’t know what that looked like. I had to really change my philosophy because in our family the Dad wanted to have input.
When you get married and you unite those parenting styles and traditions. A lot of times you create your own. Sometimes we hold on to ones we like. We need to create some of our own that create us as a family.
I wanted some of the same ones I had growing up. I wanted backpacking. I had 3 boys, but my husband didn’t have that father-figure and backpacking wasn’t his thing. He liked it but it wasn’t a natural thing for him. You have to create your own. It doesn’t matter what it is, but that you do something.
President James Faust said,
“Develop family traditions. Some of the great strengths of families can be found in their own traditions, which may consist of many things: making special occasions of the blessing of children, baptisms, ordinations to the priesthood, birthdays, fishing trips, skits on Christmas Eve, family home evening, and so forth. The traditions of each family are unique and are provided in large measure by the mother’s imprint.” Ensign, May 1983)
Don’t let traditions just create busyness for you. They need to bind you together
Traditions are important to defining us as a unit.
If there is nothing that makes your kids feel part of your family or that you belong they are going to go find it somewhere else…another family, friends doing things you don’t like (but they feel loved and accepted). They are going to find a place to feel included.
In the scriptures the Lamanites talk about the wicked/foolish traditions of our fathers. Do we have any of those in our family?
Class member: My father would say…”You kids…” things he would say when he got mad.
Swearing is a tradition that kids hear and grow up with.
Class member: I was raised on a farm and some of that language wasn’t brutally bad. But those things that are common, but not good in another family environment.
When you get into society those things defined you.
Everything we do teaches things.
One of the traditions I saw in the Stake Young Womens. We had 4 girls that got married out of the temple. We went and visited with them. They said, “You are always saying how important it is to get married in the temple, but my parents never go to the temple.”
Are we creating foolish traditions when we say, “I need to go visiting teaching/home teaching the last day of the month.” What kind of traditions are we teaching our kids after we come home from church on Sunday and talk.
Class member: The envy and having bad feelings about someone that is doing good things. You need to be happy for everyone. Make everything a learning experience instead of tearing others down.
There are so many things that create habits and traditions in our home. How often do you smile in your home? Are you optimistic or pessimistic? Be careful what you are teaching. Do we have a tradition of being Scouters? Paying tithing? Serving without complaining? Going to Relief Society Meetings? FHE? Scriptures? Mutual?
4 kinds of family traditions….
Something that happens everyday. How do you greet your kids when they come home from school everyday? I used to send the kids to watch at the window and greet Dad. That was one of my husbands favorite thing.
What do you do at bedtime? My Mom will talk about how bedtime should be the best time of the day. It’s never the best time of the day for me. I’m done with kids. I love you, goodnight. Don’t mess with.
Everytime when we came home from school my Mom would be in her sewing room, reading her scriptures, listening to elevator music. What are you doing when your kids come home from school?
We live in a different world. It doesn’t hurt that we grew up clear out away from neighbors. Now we are all really close together.
One of my brothers would eat all the butter right off the top.
I work on smiling more. I’m happy, but I don’t just smile. One of my sons Spencer, my oldest boy, would say, “What’s wrong?” Nothing. Because I wasn’t wearing a smile he thought something was wrong. I have had to really work on it. He is now on a mission. He is the same way. He feels like something is wrong if you don’t smile.
Family prayer…do you have it morning and night. We would have family prayer at dinner time. We would kneel at our chairs. Every night that was family prayer.
Family Home Evening---weekly. Do you do it? I think FHE are really important. We talked about getting a cell phone in case I had to contact him on campus. Now you guys can do FHE at the click of a button. You can get ideas so quickly. I have a historical collection of FHE books. Let your kids use those tools to teach FHE.
Rites of Passage—When do you get your ears pierced? When is your bedtime? Do you let them date before they are 16?
Class member: I work with the YW and a Mom called and said my daughter will be 11 in 2 days. Can she come early?
Wall of Fame---She had pictures down the hall. She had our baby pictures on one wall. She had lots of pictures of things we were doing.
My daughter saw my YW Medallion. It has her senior picture with a drape. Her daughter said, “Mom why are you dressed immodestly?” I have never hung it on my wall.
Everyone had pictures on the wall.
Each one of us fight over who was the favorite. Each of us truly believe we are the favorite. She has made each of us feel like the favorite. That is my Mom’s best accomplishment.
Missionary Plaques and Eagles….The first 2 got their Eagles and then the rest of the pictures were hung up with blank spaces for their pin and patch.
Backpacking, working on the subdivision, birthdays….unique to your family. Do you play music together?
Class member: When you were talking about mixing traditions in your family. My family bonded with video games. For them that is how they bonded. They talked while they bonded. Marrying into a family that did that was different. It’s hard for me to play a video game and make it bonding. You need to be open to their family traditions and make it work.
I have a girl, 3 boys, and 2 girls. You want them to play together. My kids play the Wii together. My big boys will play the Wii with his 2 younger sisters. The other thing I have had to allow in my home…my kids play dodgeball in the house. You know those squeegee water walls. They run through the house pelting each other with the balls. Don’t break something, but still do it. That doesn’t always look like what we think it will look like.
Family Reunions? Do you have them? Are you kids part of the planning of that?
Summer Vacations? Do you go to Grandma’s house every year?
We did BYU football games. That was something he could do with the boys. I ruined that one. I said, if you are going to spend 6 hours in the car with one son you are going to have the birds and the bees talk with them. Here is a list of things you will discuss. My oldest son came back and said I am never going back to another football game. It turned out to be a great experience.
How do you introduce that to your kids? One on one at an appropriate age. I took my girls overnight.
Some families go skiing, running, biking. Do some play things as well as some work things.
Class member: I went to St. George with my in-laws. My niece who is newly married into the family. My sister said you have to bring tennis shoes everywhere you go. I married into a bunch of runners, hikers, exercisers.
You learn very quickly what they do. When you visit as a family you fall back into that trend when you go visit home. My brothers still have wrestling matches on the floor because that’s what they did.
Do you play board games?
Family Service Projects---When you take a meal to someone. Do you get your kids involved? Let them see and feel joy in serving. I always make my kids do a once-a-week attendance…mowing lawns for service…not to be paid. My girls you want to learn to make bread. Who would you like to take it to this week?
We grew up by a church garden and we had to go weed regularly. You can do family search names and take them to the temple? What is the attitude during youth service projects? Help foster that in your home. You will probably not get that’s such a great idea, but at the end those are very tender memories for them.
My son has 9 home teaching families. I have been on my knees several times trying to decide if we should move. My boys having 9-14 people on a home teaching route is normal. My son goes home teaching every week. We have an assisted living place. He was so mad that they took this little lady off his route. He is still going to go every month.
Mission statements, family mottos, family cheers---It makes your kids feel like they belong.
Birthdays---My favorite holiday. I feel like birthdays are the one time you can make them feel like king or queen of the day. It becomes important for the other siblings to make them feel important and what they love about them. I made chair backs and place mats. When we were in college I wanted to make birthdays a big deal. For every birthday we are going to get 1 roll of crete paper and you have to use the whole roll. You do not have to do very much. Don’t feel like you have to do a ton of work.
Everybody writes a ‘love note’ and it goes in the back of the pocket of the chair for them to read at night.
My 17 year old son said his favorite is the birthday chair. You get their pillows and blanket of their bed. You decorate the recliner. That’s their birthday chair. The hard thing with kids when they get older. You don’t always celebrate their birthday on their birthday. My birthday chair isn’t done. My kids do that for each other.
Red plate, birthday table cloth. When we open the present we have to say what we love about that child. Birthday survey. It’s amazing to see how much they change over the year. It’s a great journaling tool.
Class member: I have a book that I trace their hand and their foot and write their stats in. I also write them a letter each year and put it in the book with it.
Class member: We do a ‘welcome to FHE’ and ‘are their any announcements?’ We have a family calendar planning on Sunday.
Class member: Weekly tradition…we do pizza and movie night with our family on Friday night. We did it randomly and was on bedrest for 4 months. We try and find something that my husband and I have both seen, but the girls haven’t seen.
Class member: We do first and last day of school pictures. I started making a little banner and balloons run through at the front door. We also have streamers and balloons on the garage door.
It doesn’t matter how old they get don’t think they out grow them. You had better do them.
Class member: Everyone says rose bud and thorn. Best part of the day and worst part of the day. This forces them to really think about the day. I want them to look for the good in the day.
We took our kids on a walk around the block. We put a candy in their mouth and a rock in their shoe. It was amazing how many complained about the rock even though the candy was there. It is all about what we focus on. We do that yearly.
Class member: When my daughter was a baby she was really fussy. I was trying to figure out how to calm myself down. I would start singing church songs. She is almost 4. My 17 month old boy and now my 4 year old does the singing. I always sing songs at bedtime.
Class member: My kiddos are happy kids. I’m not a smiler every time. They are happy and after school I ask them how things go. They always have an answer for the best time of the day. I have decided that there are hard parts and that they have to work hard. It is opposite for us. It’s hard, but not too hard. We want them to know they can do hard things.
Class member: Last year for Christmas we rotate through names. My brother got each of us our own bowl with a message from him in the bowl. “Sammy you made me want to have a baby.” One night I was dishing out chili and forgot to check which bowl belonged to who. Whoever’s bowl you have you get to say 3 nice things about the person.
We do Olympics. Nothing brings the Spirit for your country like overcoming hard things. We hang both flags…Olympic & US flag. We keep a metal count on our wall.
Class member: When you know people struggle or have losses you love them more. What happened at General Conference President Monson we saw it and we all felt it. I think the Lord showed us something and that helps us feel more love for him right now. In Priesthood he has stood strong the night before.
President Monson have a wheelchair just outside the door.
My children struggle with being cheerleaders for each other. We are jealous when others do something great. We need to teach them to see outside themselves.
We have ‘Stella’ for our reunion. Every 2 years we have this picture. It is such a homely picture. My brothers took a little picture of her in their pocket that was their girlfriend. Every reunion you have to submit your embarrassing moment. Stella has to hang in a place where everyone can see her for 2 years.
My Dad got her because they have goat heads everywhere. He was using round up. It got clogged. He took the tip off and started siphoning it. 2 days later he had sores all over in his mouth. He has “Stella” for this next 2 years.
My Mom is a decorator. Keep it simple. Teach your kids to be grateful. What has happened in this room that we are thankful for. Decorate for holidays. It makes them feel like they are important things.
Patch Adams “Perhaps we expect too much from holidays and not enough from everyday life.”
I have a brother that has a ‘what I don’t know’. You can celebrate every day of the year. He looks for reasons to be happy.
Class member: When I was growing up my Mom & Dad had huge family get together. My parents split and divorced and my new Mom’s family it was a big deal, but everyone was LDS. I got married and my husband’s family does nothing. I thought we should do something. I do not let my little kids stay up until midnight. We start at 5pm. They pop a balloon every 30 minutes and it’s an activity or treat for every hour until midnight, but they don’t stay up until midnight.
Class member: The adults get together and play card games. We let the kids run amok.
We stay up way past when we should. We eat so much junk and then the next day we set goals.
Focus on goals! This is a great time to start. Be finishers. Follow up with your kids. Check back in April and October. We have boxes with our kids names on them. We have a date that we check in the box and see what they have done. Don’t be a teacher of goals and then never follow up.
My brother does birthday…what was your biggest accomplishment, what do you want to accomplish for this next birthday.
Class member: Between new years and Valentine’s we celebrated Ground hogs day. We have breakfast for dinner. We have sausage because it’s “Ground hog”.
Class member: It think it’s those that don’t have ‘expectations’.
I started making some kind of thing. Over Christmas break she spends the break writing down 14 things she loves about each of her kids. She cuts them off in strips and the 14 days leading up they get a new one each day.
We have always drawn names and do valentine’s for each other. Make them posters and present them. They hang in their room every month.
You can do a formal dinner.
St. Patricks Day…
Wear green, green breakfast
We need to teach our children to be grateful for them. We need to show our children that it’s a great opportunity to show them that it’s the best part of our life. Do something for your children to show that you are grateful to be a mother.
Class member: I have a Mother’s Day journal, but I have the kids come in and I ask them questions.
Class member: 4th of July is huge in my husband’s family. The 4 year old were up past midnight. There was candy everywhere. It was a week long celebration. It’s amazing how much they catch on.
Have your children research why we have that holiday.
- < >Halloween Witch—trade candy for book
- Decorate rooms and have kids trick or treat at each room.
We do Christmas calendars. We have to send pictures in every year. My Mom started this when my brothers were on missions.
Pick a family to do something anonymous. When we do a family my parents don’t give us the money. Something to wear, something to play with, and a treat. We had to earn the money ourselves. We had a FHE and go shopping and then come home and wrap. After dark Christmas Eve. It took us 1 ½ hours to set up at the front of the cul-de-sac. They had this porch that was the door. You opened the door and it was right there. We put all the presents on top of it. One of my brothers had to crawl under the trampoline and then book it out of there. By far these are the best Christmas’s.
If you want to really feel the season I challenge you to do something hard with an investment from them with time or money. Those feelings are so permanently ingrained in me it is forever what Christmas is about.
We do a nativity. We build a nativity with a different type of thing…legos, play dough, poster board, wood. We keep them up every year. We are doing a lego nativity. We will send each of our missionaries out of legos. We have done food nativities. Rock people one year.
We draw names. We write a love letter. We do Mr. Peeps. This is the first year that all my children know. It was heartbreaking for her. My 11 year old thinks it’s going to be the worst Christmas ever because there is no one to move it for.
Some people have a hard time feeling like they are lying to their kids about Santa.
The Truth About Santa
My daughter Lucy and I have been exchanging notes since the school year started. We’ve talked about all sorts of things—sports, books we’d like to read, adventures we’d like to have, even stories from when I was in third grade. For the most part, though, it’s been light, casual stuff. Until last week.
I NEED TO KNOW, she wrote, using capital letters for emphasis. ARE YOU SANTA? TELL ME THE TRUTH.
What do you do when your kid asks for the truth? You tell it, of course, doing your best to figure out a way that keeps at least some of the magic intact.
Here’s what I wrote:
Thank you for your letter. You asked a very good question: “Are you Santa?”
I know you’ve wanted the answer to this question for a long time, and I’ve had to give it careful thought to know just what to say.
The answer is no. I am not Santa. There is no one Santa.
I am the person who fills your stockings with presents, though. I also choose and wrap the presents under the tree, the same way my mom did for me, and the same way her mom did for her. (And yes, Daddy helps, too.)
I imagine you will someday do this for your children, and I know you will love seeing them run down the stairs on Christmas morning. You will love seeing them sit under the tree, their small faces lit with Christmas lights.
This won’t make you Santa, though.
Santa is bigger than any person, and his work has gone on longer than any of us have lived. What he does is simple, but it is powerful. He teaches children how to have belief in something they can’t see or touch.
It’s a big job, and it’s an important one. Throughout your life, you will need this capacity to believe: in yourself, in your friends, in your talents and in your family. You’ll also need to believe in things you can’t measure or even hold in your hand. Here, I am talking about love, that great power that will light your life from the inside out, even during its darkest, coldest moments.
Santa is a teacher, and I have been his student, and now you know the secret of how he gets down all those chimneys on Christmas Eve: he has help from all the people whose hearts he’s filled with joy.
With full hearts, people like Daddy and me take our turns helping Santa do a job that would otherwise be impossible.
So, no. I am not Santa. Santa is love and magic and hope and happiness. I’m on his team, and now you are, too.
I love you and I always will.
Priesthood Ordinations—pull your kids out of class to see them ordained.
We do mission books. We get to read letters from missionaries all the time. I expect a good letter from my kids. Don’t sound like you are on vacation. I was training them what a good letter is. We have these books that have their call. We print off the emails and it will be your journal.
We don’t have farewells anymore. What do you do to make them feel important?
How do you open their call?
You can have one recorded father’s day blessing. (per Boyd K Packer) We always did that the night before we got married.
- < >Ask your children what their favorite traditions are. Then think about your traditions. Are they busy or are they bonding?
- Think about and implement something new to make Thanksgiving more about gratitude and Christmas more about Christmas.
You may need to simplify some of your traditions.
Have a birthday party for Joseph Smith! We are told he has done more for mankind save it be Jesus Christ yourself.
Class member: When our cycles hit for the very first time, it’s a horrible experience. What I wanted to do for my daughters I wanted it to be awesome. When you have your first period you get to celebrate “Woman’s Day”. We plan it and we make it big. The boys in the family don’t know what it means. After it was over we spent the whole month planning. We planned pedicures, manicures, and ate out twice that day. Now her little sister we talk about how she gets to have it. Only women get to go on this. Now my daughters get to have a beautiful experience that I wish I had.
We have a responsibility to teach our sons about respect for women and girls and teach them how to be aware of their feelings.
What does it mean to be part of our family? Help them feel like they belong. Help them feel like this is what this means. Work…church…are we helping them create good traditions or foolish traditions of our fathers. These are so important to help them feel like they belong. This is part of the fun part. Make it exciting and fun for them.
TRADITIONS SHARED IN CLASS....
(Jackie) We have conference feasts – all sorts of treats we don’t buy. Make Conference nests. Conference Bingo.
(Jackie) We have a tradition of an imaginary spider that likes to show up and help my kids by being funny and demanding. Spidery jumps on beds to wake up kids and gets in backpacks and says he’s going to school. Things like that.
(Jackie) We have a “Bad Rat” who camps out in hair and makes it hard to comb/brush out hair. He’s very bad, with a funny bad voice with a sort of German accent.
(Jackie) Out to eat Mom & Girls before school.
(Lea) Halloween pillowcases all October, then use for Halloween candy bags. That night the Halloween witch trades candy for a book.
(Lea) Potato Bowl! My Father-in-law is in charge of it so he gets us in. We’ve done it every year and my kids LOVE it!
(Ann) Christmas Eve Candlelight dinner. We share talents and talk about how Jesus lived and what it was like on the earth when he was born.
(Ann) Summer list of things we want to do during the summer. Everyone has a voice and we try to accomplish everything on the list by the end of the summer.
(Lynette) Our family does 1 outdoor activity per month.
(Lynette) The kids and I all sleep under the Christmas tree, the night before Christmas Eve. It’s just so cozy and they all love it, even the big kids. This Christmas will be our last one, all together since our oldest will be leaving on a mission early next year.
(Sara) Set up a prophet tent in the middle of the living room to watch Conference in.
(Sara) Kids are usually on their own for breakfast in the morning, but on their birthdays they can choose a special breakfast for their special day for me to make.
(Heather) Happy Birthday banners hanging everywhere
(Heather) Hot Springs (anywhere) in the winter time.
(Heather) Picture the 1st and last day of school
(Heather) Last day of school balloon and sign run through (sign on garage and streamers & balloons)
(Heather) Attend airshows
(Heather) Watch Olympics
(Heather) Lobby shirts—wearing Dad’s old shirt to bed in summer time.
(Heather) Color food dinner—to teach it doesn’t matter what color it is. You have to try it and it could be good. Use food coloring to color your food and buy different color lettuce and different color cauliflower, color your milk or mac and cheese.
Birthdays—Breakfast in bed and follow the golden ribbon to your gifts
Conference—Chocolate covered strawberries in April. Cinnamon rolls in October.
Halloween—Halloween these pillow cases on October 1st and trick-or-treat with them on Halloween.
Conference Store—1 ticket per speaker, little ones write the speakers name, big ones take notes, 1 ticket for singing, 1 ticket for bearing testimony at the end, Tickets buy things at the store.
Birthday dinners—one on one with each child.
Easter—Big Easter egg hunt with family and friends, the weekend after Easter.
Groundhog’s Day—Celebrate with dinner for breakfast.
Having a picnic lunch in the field at beet harvest.
Date night with my husband
Gift baskets—we deliver gift baskets at Christmas to friends. We do this with my sister-in-law and her family.
(Suzanne) Pictures in front of the garage (side of the garage has to be in the picture as a reference to see their growth) at the beginning of each school year.
(Suzanne) We started a new tradition every New Year’s Eve: We only break out the fondue set that night to use. Cheese (different kinds) and chocolate with bite size breads, brownies, crackers, cheese, different vegetables, etc.
(Melody) Sunday Calendar planning with Popcorn
(Melody) Valentine’s Manner Dinner—Favorite part—my kids all come with a discussion topic
(Jennifer) Thanksgiving popcorn kernels—3 things we are grateful for.
(Jennifer) Daily prayers with my husband.
Meet at Grandma’s house with extended family each Christmas Eve
Birthday’s—Decorate doors with posters, balloons, etc.
Father’s blessings before school starts.
Every Sunday evening we make treats and play games as a family – no meetings, no distractions, just us.
Bike rides in the summer.
Hugs at the door every morning when kids leave and husband leaves. Yes even the teenagers get hugs from Mom.
Women’s Day—When daughter first starts her period I pick her up from school and we stay home for 2 days watching movies and just hanging out. Then we play a Women’s Day to celebrate becoming a woman. We get to go do whatever ‘women’ do…pedicures, manicures, out to dinner, etc. We plan this for about a month later. It’s her day and mine to celebrate her becoming a woman.
At Christmas time we love to decorate the tree together.
Every night we talk about our favorite part of the day. It’s my favorite time to talk to my 6 year old daughter and now my 2 year old son is talking about his favorite part.
(Kayla) Open new PJs on Christmas Eve
(Kayla) At bedtime we always sing “I Am A Child of God”
When one of our kids looses their 1st tooth, we have a family slumber party.
Christmas Eve we always move the dinner table into the living room and have dinner by the fireplace.
(Cindy) Red heart-shaped bowls and plates for the birthday boy or girl.
(Cindy) Going to Linder Farms every October
(Cindy) Take kids to Toys R Us to pick out what they would like for Christmas. I take notes in a notebook.
(Cindy) Every year on our Wedding Anniversary, we take a self-pose photography of our family at the kitchen table.
Nutcracker every year.
Pumpkin patch every Fall with the family
Christmas Eve reenactment of Nativity and opening one gift.
Give them each a gift at the beginning of school year.
Pumpkin patch every Fall.
Christmas Slumber Party at Grandma’s House. A Friday in December we go to my Mom’s house for a BIG PARTY! We make brownie caterpillars (in place of gingerbread houses), eat ham sandwiches and other delicious goodies, play Just Dance on the Wii, play hide and seek, the blanket game, and other fun games. We stay up way too late and then we throw out sleeping bags and air mattresses and we all sleep in the family room. More often than not the TV I on with a Christmas movie playing till 2 am. The next morning we have a BIG breakfast and continue games until about noon.
Birthday Dinners—Birthday girl gets to pick where we go to dinner on their actual birthday (unless it lands on a Sunday)
I LOVE this simple tradition! My brother for Christmas last year bough us bowls with our name and a message from him on the inside. One night I dished out the chili and forgot to check which bowl was which. So we played a game! Whichever bowl you go then you had to say 3 nice things about that person. If you get your own you have to say 3 nice things about yourself.
(Andrea) We open our fire pit between session of General Conference in April and then we close it between session of General Conference in October. That’s our fire pit season.
(Andrea) The kids spending a week at Grandma & Grandpa’s every summer.