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Routines, rituals improve family health, relationshipscomment (0)

January 2, 2003

Family routines and rituals, such as eating meals together and celebrating holidays, help make stronger relationships and healthier children, according to a new report issued by the American Psychological Association.

The study, a review of 50 years of research of family life, found that family routines and rituals are associated with marital satisfaction, children’s health and individual feelings of well-being. They also aid families in balancing the demands of work and home and help children adapt after divorce, the study said.

The review examined findings from 32 separate studies. It described routines as regular activities such as dinnertime, bedtime, chores and visiting relatives.

Family rituals, on the other hand, “involve symbolic communication and convey ‘this is who we are’ as a group and provide continuity in meaning across generations,” said psychologist Barbara H. Fiese, Ph.D., who conducted the review with colleagues from Syracuse University. Birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Passover and funerals were identified as common rituals.

Routines and rituals were also found to change over the family life cycle.

Families with infants had “fewer predictable routines” and drew less emotional merit from family gatherings than those with preschool children, a time when children can participate more actively in family life.

As children grow older and become parents themselves, they often attach more meaning to family rituals.

The study appeared in the December 2002 issue of the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Family Psychology.


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