The family that prays together, stays together.
Sounds familiar? There is no doubt about the power of prayer. But many do not realize that the togetherness is as potent as prayer itself.
There is so much brokenness around. And one of the prevailing reasons why this happens is the absence of activities that the family do as a unit, as a group, as a team.
It is quite ironic. We have progressed economically and we have more time in our hands to spend for activities that we love.
But somehow these activities do not actually reflect the kind of interaction that nourishes the mind, the heart, and soul of the members.
This is not hard to understand especially when these activities are not consistent and perhaps just spur of the moment occasions. When it is not predictable at all, it loses the power to bond the participants, the family members.
Predictability is the ingredient that strengthens each member of the family, psychologically and emotionally. Predictability is established in rituals.
When we started to take our children to individual dates, they began to look forward for their turn. This anticipation prepared them to unwind and connect better with us, thereby opening lines of communication that is very crucial in effective parenting.
They also like Friday night because it is devotion night for us. They know that after dinner, we all get inside our room, pray the rosary, read the gospel for the day, and share about their week. Or sometimes it becomes a family meeting where we set goals and plans.
Regardless of the outcome, what is important is the consistency and predictability of the activity.
Why are family rituals important?
First, rituals establish identity. It clarifies the beliefs and values of the family. And because these values are practiced and demonstrated through the rituals, they become an intricate part of the individual.
Secondly, rituals satisfy a need – the need to belong. According to Abraham Maslow, the need to belong is a basic need, that if not met, will create various psychological problems. Rituals perpetuate the connection among the members and strengthen the attachment among them.
Thirdly, rituals empower beliefs and create a culture. It is positive family culture which buffers the child from the onslaught of negativity surrounding him.
Generational rituals need to be perpetuated. Sadly, the new generation now is creating a counter culture that emphasizes individuality and independence. This is not bad per se. But its effects are seen on young people who are lonely, depressed, and suicidal.
Let us bring back and establish again our family rituals. Eating together, devotional time, going out for leisure, and many other traditions that provide our children the tools which they can use to live and thrive in these ever-challenging times.
The key is togetherness, predictability, and consistency.