Tradition is defined as “the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation” (Google, 2016). This makes me chuckle when I think of the traditions in my family. The most noted tradition, if you will, is that of picking on each other whenever we are together. I have always enjoyed this banter and sometimes looked forward to it. Now, however, my daughter has pointed out that she behaves like this often and her friends do not understand her need to roast everyone, as she has said to me. She stated she blames my family for ruining her. This was also said in fun, as is tradition.
Traditions can help to build the identity of a child (Currie, Dave. Doing Family Right, 2012 http://www.doingfamilyright.com/the-impact-of-family-traditions/). The activities that are a family’s traditions help a child see their family, and themselves, as unique. This tradition of giving each other a hard time has shaped my daughter so much that she now does this as a way to connect outside of her family. Is this a good thing? Can a tradition be a bad thing?
According to Currie, Dave (2012) traditions can sometimes pry a family apart when they are forced or not sincere. This is not the case with my daughter. She has embraced the tradition so much so, she has adapted it to her life. She has taken this family tradition and called it her own. It truly is her fiber that connects her to the family. But, it may not be the fiber that keeps her connected to her friends. Her friends have gone on to say that she and I have a weird relationship how we often give each other gruff. When my daughter told me this, I was flattered. No one can take what we have because they don’t understand. Is that a bad thing? It is not a bad thing for us, but her relationship with her friends may suffer.
This is not the only tradition in my family, but in this time of year, when traditions are very evident, the comment from my daughter got me thinking of how traditions impact our own lives and how they impact the lives of those around us. Can we use these traditions to live a life above average? Do we re-evaluate our traditions and start anew?
Certainly, as we age and gain new perspectives and form new opinions, our views of the family traditions may change or become skewed. But, if they are truly a part of your identity, nothing but self-reflection, can shake them. You must be introspective to see how these tight traditions have shaped you and decide if it has been for the best.
My daughter might need to look into herself and learn when it is best to pick on her friends. There might be a need for a lesson on discretion and timing. She has to realize that not every person has our family’s perspective on picking on each other. Some may actually find the banter offensive. Can you believe that?! Yet, this is such a huge part of who I am, and what I know, I cannot convince myself that I need to stop the tradition. This does keep our family close as it is unique to our family.
I might take a look into starting new traditions for my nuclear family, but will continue sharing the traditions that my parents taught. Possibly, we should look more to our traditions and to ourselves. Family is important to a life of excellence and joy. Tradition is a huge part of family, but it may be appropriate to identify which of those traditions are beneficial to the lives of the family members.