Family traditions can be especially impactful during the holiday season, as we all look for ways to connect with those we love most. As parents, there may be traditions you’ve held on to from your own childhood, but it’s also important to be open to new traditions that serve the needs of your family now.

Starting traditions with young children.
Traditions help shape your family’s story, and often reflect how you support each other and relate to one another. Even if your child is too young to participate in a tradition in an active way, it’s important to include them. These early moments are formative in shaping your child’s identity and feeling established within your family can build their confidence over time.

Evolving traditions over time.
It may seem counterintuitive to think of traditions changing over the years, but having an open mind is an important way to keep your children invested in this time together. Traditions are important for the way they bring your family together, not because it forces everything to be the same year after year.

When your children are in the elementary years, consider what your family needs and how you can incorporate a tradition that speaks to that. For example, if your family is feeling disengaged and could benefit from expressing gratitude, collect old coats and warm clothing to donate to those in needs. If you’re feeling disconnected from your community, look for events that bring people together. It’s important to honor the past, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of your family’s well-being now.

Keeping teens involved.
A family sing-along or ice-skating adventure may not have the same appeal to your children once they enter the teen years, but it’s often adolescents who need those reaffirming moments the most. Rather than brushing them off when they express that something is boring or pointless, try to determine what’s at the root of those sentiments. Maybe they’re feeling anxious about this time in their life or hopeless about the future.

Be open to changing up what your holidays look like if it means bringing your child into the fold. Are there ways you can make your celebrations more environmentally friendly? If you’re making year-end gifts to nonprofits, let them choose a cause that’s near to their heart. These actions may not feel as festive as some of your other traditions, but they’ll be just as impactful, if not more, for your teen.

The holidays are ultimately a time for connection, and traditions can serve as a bridge between the past and present. Even if the activities or events change from one year to the next, spending time with your family, however you define it, is what will make a lasting impression throughout the generations.