saying grace

Becoming a better parent: Rituals

Our Westview team member, Terry Owens, writes his next post in a series, Becoming a Better Parent. His article is “Rituals.”

If we think back to our childhood, we remember special times that make us smile. Many of those memories involved repeated rituals, like the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  Even as adults, there are certain smells that bring back fond memories of those days: the scent of freshly cut watermelon, the aroma of baked turkey, a whiff of hot chocolate.

Our family shared Christmas at my grandmother’s; we enjoyed a wonderful meal and took time for the opening of presents. We kids would gleefully open our gifts while watching adults became as excited as we were to see what we got.

Over the years, my perspective of what was important about these rituals changed. As a child, Christmas was more about the gifts we got. As I became older, I figured out that this holiday, as most of the other holidays, was more about the family ritual of getting together.

A family ritual is a practice that is planned for a purpose. A key purpose for rituals is to strengthen the bond of family. Rituals create a time of intimacy, emotion, and connection. Through connection you can develop a stronger relationship of trust and felt safety with children.

Family rituals need to be scheduled and important, whether for single parents or a couple parenting together. Your excitement for this time can be contagious and help your children want to be a part of the ritual. The enthusiasm of a parent sets the tone for the family’s time together. Remember, it’s about setting aside a special time and space for intimacy, emotion, and connection for your family.

Besides holidays, there are many more frequent family rituals you may consider. Here is a short list: having a family game night; practicing a bedtime ritual with stories, readings, or prayers; saying grace before meals at the table together; or following a morning ritual, such as giving each of your children a blessing as they leave for school. Depending upon the likes of you and your children, you can work with your children to develop your own unique rituals. Kids love rituals and they can be real sticklers for doing them “the right way.”

Family rituals should be a time that is protected from interruptions and distractions. Everyone should be available. During rituals, all family problems or recent misbehavior must be set aside. Instead, we should enjoy our time together.

Westview Boys’ Home is blessed to be a part of this community; our mission is to be a resource for our friends and neighbors. Through Westview Family Services we provide family and child counseling, parenting classes, and trauma-informed classroom training. If we can be of service, please call  (580) 688-9281 or email us at