3 Benefits of Family Routines and Rituals

I don’t know when it became a part of everyday life, but somehow it did. It happened one day, maybe on accident, but then it happened again. Soon it became a pattern.

At the end of each day when we both were home from work and school, my spouse and I walked to the mailbox together to check the mail.

It was a simple little thing, something that didn’t take much time or effort. But somehow I came to look forward to those little walks together, chatting casually about our days and hoping for something exciting in the mailbox. This little daily routine brought us closer together as a couple and gave us a sense of stability.

While you may not walk to the mailbox together, every family has their own set of routines and rituals. What do these family rituals and routines look like, and how can they help your family?

What are rituals and routines?

According to one family scholar, “Routines and rituals are repeated patterns of behavior that, when conducted by families, serve to facilitate family life, communicate family values, and augment family identity” (1). This can include patterns like family dinner, a bedtime routine, or religious family practices. Some patterns may just happen naturally, whereas others may be more intentional.  

How can they help?

Many families have rituals and routines of their own. But what kind of impact can they have on you and your children? How can they help your family?

1. Help with Development

Routines and rituals provide great opportunities for your kids to develop academically and socially. According to research, “Naturally occurring family routines and meaningful rituals provide both a predictable structure that guides behavior and an emotional climate that supports early development” (2).

Particularly in early years, routines and rituals help improve self-regulation and intellectual development (3).They can also give kids opportunity to build vocabulary and social skills in meaningful ways (2).

2. Pass on Values

In addition to helping your kids develop well, family routines and rituals can be instrumental in passing on family values and morals.

One literature review explains that rituals “facilitate social interaction among family members so that families can transmit cultural . . . information as well as beliefs and values across generations” (4). As you spend time together doing both the regular routines and more special rituals, your kids can come to better understand what you value and believe.

3. Protect against Hardship

Families and individuals go through hard times; it’s just part of life! But thankfully, family routines and rituals can make those hard times just a little more bearable. As one literature review explains, “All families experience crisis or stress, and rituals have the capacity to provide families stability during these times” (4).

One study found that the stability of family routines minimized the bad side effects of financial hardship (5). Other studies show that routines and rituals can help out as families go through divorce or the struggles of single parenting (2) (6). Whatever difficulties you face, family routines and rituals may be able to help.

Create Your Own

Every family has different wants, needs, and interests. But whatever you do, find a way to create your own routines and rituals! Whether it be making time for Sunday walks, having an annual summer BBQ, or even just tucking the kids into bed each night, find what works for you.

As you do, your kids will develop better, you’ll pass on family values, and you’ll protect your family from whatever hardships you face. So start today to create rituals and routines that will help your family.


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Picture retrieved from https://www.pexels.com/photo/adult-adventure-baby-child-532508/.


1. Yoon, Y. (2012) The Role of Family Routines and Rituals in the Psychological Well Being of Emerging Adults. Masters Theses 1911 – February 2014. 965. Retrieved from http://scholarworks.umass.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2035&context=theses

2. Spagnola, M., & Fiese, B. H. (2007). Family routines and rituals: A context for development in the lives of young children. Infants & Young Children, 20(4), 284-299. Retrieved from https://depts.washington.edu/isei/iyc/20.4_spagnola.pdf

3. Ferretti, L. K., & Bub, K. L. (2014). The influence of family routines on the resilience of low-income preschoolers. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 35(3), 168-180. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0193397314000276

4. Viere, G. M. (2001, July). Examining family rituals. The Family Journal: Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families, 9(3), 285-288. Retrieved from http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1066480701093007  

5. Budescu, M., & Taylor, R. D. (2013). Order in the home: Family routines moderate the impact of financial hardship. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 34(2), 63-72. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1002758

6. Fiese, B. H., Tomcho, T. J., Douglas, M., Josephs, K., Poltrock, S., & Baker, T. (2002). A review of 50 years of research on naturally occurring family routines and rituals: Cause for celebration? Journal of Family Psychology, 16(4), 381-390. Retrieved from  http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0193397314000276

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