The word “rituals” might instigate unpleasant symbols and associations with religious connotations. Many parents mistake routines with rituals thinking that this is .
Dr. Edmund Wong, a seasoned Family Life Educator (FLE) from TOUCH Community Services shared with us why we should initiate family rituals.
1. Routines vs Rituals
This is a common misunderstanding between the two. Routines takes place regularly and there is no significance attached while rituals happen regularly with a special meaning attached. For example, going to bed at 9pm is a routine. Brushing your teeth before bedtime is also a routine. It’s something that you do as a habit; there is no major meaning attached to it.
Reading to your child prior to bedtime can be a routine that becomes a ritual as it is a “special time” for the parent and child. Planning an annual family vacation becomes a family ritual as does that special Sunday Family Lunch.
Edmund points out that it is important to establish rituals as you are intentionally building a bond between you (parent) and your child.
2. Your child will remember the JOURNEY, not the destination
Many Singaporean parents ferry their children to and from their classes. While they are at home, they are on the phone, working on the computer or doing something different than their children. Edmund stress that being at the “same place at the same time” does NOT mean you are building a relationship.
He used the analogy of travel to demonstrate his point: children are likely to remember the things they did, with whom they did it, but NOT where they did it at. So, for example your child may remember the amazing roller coaster ride experience he/she shared with you but not necessary the theme park where it happened.
“To build a relationship with your children, you have to play the things THEY want to play,” says Edmund.
3. Unity between Parents
The relationship between parents need to be strong, especially when you have to dish out any disciplinary actions for your child. Edmund urges parents to first discuss the course of action to take before meting out the punishment or discipline to the child. In this regard, mom and dad has to have a good relationship. And to constantly nurture this relationship, the couple has to be on the same page. Edmund has this advice to offer the parents:
“You cannot top up your own emotional tank. You need to spend time with the person THE WAY the person like it.”
4. Your “Rights” to “parent” your child
At the risk of sounding old-school, Edmund stressed the need for our children to be taught to respect institution – family, school, government, the business world etc. He is not advocating using the rod, but parents need to rethink discipline. At the same time, he worries about our children’s ability to be resilient. As leaders of the pack, Edmund’s final message is:
“Parents need to reclaim their right to be parents! Practice funnel parenting, and BE a parent.”
Finally, here are Edmund’s tips to encourage family bonding:
- Travel with the family – try to have a holiday with no agenda
- Establish a regular meal pattern–Mealtimes great opportunities to gather AND the best time to talk.
- Be conscious and alert when the child INITIATES a conversation. – “How do you want your child to describe you as a parent?”
- Create a motto for your family.
- Enjoy each other’s company.
This workshop was organized by the Parent Support Group (PSG) of Tao Nan School as part of their School Family Education (SFE) initiative to support parents in their parenting journey.
Till our next post, love yourself, love one another.