Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the NFL is back in season! If you’re like me you’ve been looking forward to this day for the past six months.
For the next 17 weeks, my wife and I will be spending every Sunday night in our basement with homemade pizza cheering for our favorite teams. In the three short years of our marriage, Sunday night football has become a family ritual that I hope we’ll continue for years to come, and while this isn’t the only way to spend Sunday nights, it does remind me of the importance of family rituals.
What is a family ritual? Basically, it’s a habit in your family that provides stability and meaning, and it’s
more important than you might think. If you want to know what is important in your life you should look at your rituals. If you want to make something important in your life, ritualize it. From the very start of my marriage, my wife and I knew that we valued regular family time and communication, and so like many families we have an evening family meal. Every day, no matter how busy we are, we gather for dinner and talk about our day. Family dinner is a ritual at our house.
Rituals can be good or bad. On college campuses everywhere, excessive drinking of alcohol has become ritualized through drinking games and “party fouls,” and unfortunately this has created many young people who struggle to be social without a few beers in their system. On the positive side, Christians of all denominations gather every Sunday to pray, support each other, and recharge for the next week.
It’s important to notice that rituals always show us what we value. We are creatures of habit, and so we make habits of the things we care about, or in other words we ritualize them. Another important fact is that we can choose the rituals we participate in. If you want to pass on an important lesson to your kids, ritualize that lesson. For example, I want my sonto be a wrestler and so I tackle him when he’s not expecting it. I want him to know that family is important so we eat together every night. I want him to know that God is important and so I pray with him every night.
What values do you hope to pass on to your kids? What things can you do to ritualize those values? Share your ideas and values in the comments!