About Family Rituals

       A ritual, tradition, or custom is a repeated set of personal or group  behaviors that aim to satisfy the dominant participants' key needs. Every family inherits rituals (e.g. dining habits, vacations, birthdays, holidays, re-unions) from ancestors, and evolves new rituals. Marriage requires mer-ging two or more biofamilies' rituals. This inevitably breeds webs of values and loyalty conflicts and relationship triangles - for years.

       Rituals range from nurturing (need-fulfilling) to toxic (need-amplifying). Common primary needs that cause us all to create and repeat rituals are (a) normalcy (feeling "like other people"); validation (reaffirming and strengthen-ing family roles, rules, rank, bonds, relationships, loyalties, and family id-entity; and (c) security. Repeating familiar behaviors and activities can yield the comfort of "things are as they should be - my life is stable and predic-table (i.e. safe)," vs. "I'm aging, changing, and am powerless to prevent lo-sing cherished and familiar things."

       Rituals which honor the needs of all participants equally strengthen relationships, homes, and families. During family reorganizations (like mar-riage, births, divorce, and deaths), family members can fight over whose rituals (needs) will prevail, or accept that cooperatively balancing old and new rituals benefits everyone. Wounded, unaware adults risk being inflexible and competitive on this, and/or performing home and family rituals from ex-cessive shame, guilts, and fears ("duty"). Who determines the rituals in your home and family? Are these customs nurturing or toxic?