The word “culture” is something we normally associate with people from different countries, ethnicities or religions. Or you might have heard it used in reference to an organisation or social group (or yoghurt, but that’s an altogether different culture).
But have your thought about culture in terms of your family? Every family unit has its own culture and fostering it in a positive way is a really powerful thing to do to strengthen your bond as a family.
Culture, of the non-dairy variety, is defined as the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society.
When we think of it like this, it is easier to see how family culture works. Each family has its own set of traditions, values and norms. Like any cultural group, your family’s culture is its identity – who you are as a unit.
This is really important for kids, as family is a protective factor against issues such as mental, emotional and behavioural problems.
Providing our kids with a strong sense of who they are and where they come from can help them feel confident and supported.
So how do you foster your family culture? Here are a few things to consider:
Rituals and Traditions
Most families have rituals and traditions. These may be simple things you take for granted such as everyone gathering for a family meal on Sundays, watching a favourite sporting team together or family games night.
You will have your daily rituals as well; reading a book before bedtime, a special greeting or farewell, Taco Tuesdays – all these things may just seem like part of everyday life to you but by doing them repeatedly you are cementing precious family memories for your children.
If you don’t have many rituals or traditions, why not create some? They don’t have to be complicated, onerous or expensive but will be priceless to your children.
Family Values and Beliefs
Have you seen those wall hangings that are popular these days that say “In this house we…”? Usually they lists things such as laugh, say sorry, be kind etc. Some are themed too, such as Star Wars or Harry Potter.
These are a perfect example of embracing your family values and culture. Obviously, it doesn’t need to be spelled out on the wall but reminding your children of what behaviours and attitudes your family values is very important.
Model these values by acting on the things you believe are important. If there is a cause you believe in, involve the family in volunteering or fundraising. Let them see you do random acts of kindness or hear you say sorry when you make mistakes. Reinforce the positive values and beliefs you want your children to have.
Our norms are the typical or default behaviours our family adopts. Ideally, our norms are our values in action. However, this might not always be the case. How we communicate with each other, resolve conflict and how family members contribute to the running of the household are all examples of norms.
Structure and discipline can have a lot to do with family norms and they are often conveyed by example as much by instruction. Kids are more likely to do as you do, not as you say!
Evaluate your family norms and the “feel” of your household. Are there changes that could be put in place to make your family culture more positive?
Fostering your family culture shouldn’t be another thing to add to your “to do list”. However, be mindful that your family does have its own culture and that it is an important part of your children’s sense of identity. Fostering a positive culture can only have increased benefits for the whole family.