I love attending my school’s family day. It’s such a joyous occasion to see all families gathered up and supporting their children, their siblings, or their nieces and nephews. Some families come in colour-coordinated clothes. Some families even perform together on stage, and some are very conservatives.
One thing is obvious; they all have their own family culture.
What is family culture?
Family culture is a collection of your family values, standards and ethics, and traditions that your family adheres to; some of these are passed down from generations to generations.
Family culture is what makes your family unique as a unit. It is your identity; it is what makes you known. If you think your family doesn’t have an “identity,” you are mistaken. Every family has this!
Does your family pray together before sleeping? Does your family like traveling? Does your family love music? Does your family like reading? Does your family enjoy arts and crafts? Does your family have daily or weekly family dinners?
I know of families who finished school from the same university or college, and they would go out to watch their school’s games against their rival teams. I know of families who always go on vacations every summer. I know of families who are always joining fun runs.
Family psychologists and therapists stress the importance of building and cultivating a family culture.
Why is family culture important?
Your family culture is important because, like your own personal identity, it’s what makes your family your family. Family conflicts and challenges reveal just how important family culture is, as in the case of sibling rivalries.
When siblings fight, it’s not the frequency nor the intensity of those fights that defines sibling relationships. Family culture and tradition builds little moments that make up for the difficulties and conflicts.
By building our own family culture, we can protect our relationship with our family. Family culture invites us to see how important the small things are. Through our family culture, we are able to come back to something when our external world becomes too demanding and too overwhelming.
Family culture is what makes our house a home to come back to.
How do you build your family culture?
Building your own family culture is just as important as finding out what it is. Here are the steps to build your own family culture.
1. Identify what your family culture
It’s not that difficult to identify what your family culture is. You can start by listing anything that seems to for part of your culture all down in bullets, or through a colorful and fun activity called mind mapping.
Mind mapping is a great tool to reveal what other things we can associate to the central idea. In finding out what your family culture is, you can put your family downright in the center of it the map, and from there try to give “definitions” to your family.
You can add just simple words, values, or even activities that you are already doing. And you can make a separate mind map for values or activities that you would like for your family to work on.
Get a big piece of paper, some colorful markers, and start mind mapping!
By the end of this activity, you will have made a spider-like structure and an idea of what your family’s culture is.
2. Make it a habit
“We are what we repeatedly do.” – Will Durant, in his study of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics.
After identifying the things that your family members associate to your family, you can now begin to keep doing it and turning it into a habit.
3. Cultivate the importance of each habit
If one of the things that your family values is learning then a scrabble game night on Fridays could be something that you could do as a way to reinforce the meaning of this value.
We do not only stop at building these into habits. We continuously reinforce these because there is value to it.
Having a family culture is important because it provides you and your children the loving safety net when things go difficult.
The idea behind creating a family culture is not to create a list of things to do. It’s about finding out what your family believes in, what your family values.
As your lives continue to move forward, you will find out that some of your values or some of the activities that you have established as a tradition don’t fit your lifestyle anymore. That’s okay.
There are some activities that you will definitely grow out of but do not forget that the essential part of these activities you’ve built are the intrinsic values that your family takes away from it. Your family culture is what makes your family your own. Be proud of it and embrace it.