March 28, 1998 in Features

Boring Rituals Usually Treasured Later Repeated Events Are Usually The Ones That Teenagers Will Remember The Rest Of Their Lives

Dr. Hap Lecrone Cox News Service

Ask a teenager what he or she has been doing, and you are likely to get some variant of the comment, “Oh, you know, the same old thing.”

What that comment usually means is that life in that teen’s family is predictable. Family members tend to do the same old thing over and over.

Consistency and repetition may, in teenagers’ opinion, be boring at the time. However, these same repeated events may later be what they recall as the part of their family life that they liked the best.

In talking with young adults recently, I asked them what they liked best about family life. Here are some practices they talked about:

Every Saturday at our house was hamburger day. We could invite our friends for lunch. People fixed their own hamburgers in their own style. After high school, as we all returned from college for vacations, we knew we would get together at our house on Saturdays.

Birthdays were special days. Besides the food and the cake that Mom prepared, Dad always made a grab bag especially for us. It was just a big paper sack filled with lots of small items. The trick was that we had to reach into the bag and take the gifts out one at a time. When we were little, we had to guess what the item was before we looked. The bag was always full of surprises. We still have our grab bag specials.

On weekends, Dad would always take us out after breakfast for doughnuts. It was a way we could spend a little extra time together.

I looked forward every summer to fishing with Grandpa. As we fished, he would tell me stories about what his boyhood was like. He also would talk about the sky, the weather and taking care of nature. These trips made me appreciate the environment.

Hunting with the fellows meant taking along Rover, the dog. I felt very grown-up to be in the company of my dad and his friends. When bird season opened, I was ready to go. I have managed to be at home every year for this event.

We cling to practices and rituals as part of a need for consistency and permanence in our lives. We want stability and routine.

If you have young children and want to establish some rituals, think about times when you have noticed that the children have derived pleasure from an activity. Then repeat the activity and see if the effect brings the family closer together. If it does, you can make it a regular event.

Judging from what the young people told me, the activity is usually something that is simple, requires little preparation and is easy on the family pocketbook.

That’s how rituals begin, a mutual sharing with the benefits of something unique to your family.

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