Establishing Family Traditions

When I was a young Dad, I had this burning desire to buy a particular type of boat. It was a 24ft Pelin Empress. The day I bought it, I looked at it on my front lawn – my car could barely tow it. I asked myself the question why had I bought it? As I pondered, I realised that for me the boat was an attempt to replicate the best memories I had as a child which were holidays with Dad on a boat. These were quality times of 24/7 with Dad and no interruptions. Although it may have only been for a two-week period it was gold.

Well, that boat established a new tradition of quality times as a family with the next generation. Over the years the boat has changed with changing family dynamics. It is now a boat primarily used for water skiing and wake boarding. It has started a new tradition of an extended nuclear family annual weekend away every February to Lake Rotoiti (when Covid restrictions allow).


Most families have traditions and sometimes family members may not be aware of the pattern or action, which has become a tradition.

“Traditions are rituals families engage in over and over. They lend a certain spirit that nurtures the family connection, giving us a sense of belonging and helping us celebrate generations of family. More importantly, traditions create positive memories for children.” (Source:

There are the common traditions celebrated by many families and in our case with varying levels of extended family members:

Birthdays (with our extended nuclear family).

Christmas celebrations (which include two separate full extended family gatherings).

Easter celebrations (with our extended nuclear family).

Guy Fawkes (a gathering for extended family pyromaniacs).


My wife and I established some traditions in the lives of our children to celebrate life and the transition into their next phase of life. Once established, the other siblings waited in expectancy for their turn. These included:

10-year-old birthday party with friends. Often marked by leaving Primary school and starting Intermediate.

13-year-old celebration of becoming an adult. This was a special night out with Mum and Dad to the restaurant of their choice, driven there in a limousine.

18-year-old celebration. This celebration included a recognition that they were being released into more self-determination.

21-year-old celebration. This was a big celebration with family and friends to celebrate full adulthood. Mum and Dad now moved into the role of side-line cheerleaders.

Engagement celebration. The celebration of the pending marriage.

Wedding celebration. The celebration of a new oneness in God for two individuals. Where we release our child into establishing a new generation.


When we examine the lives of our families, we can see other traditions that are established with time. With a growing family, because of our children’s marriages, we now meet as a family every Wednesday night for dinner. We may only gather for a couple of hours, but it is gold.

So be grateful for traditions. Prioritise and attend your family traditions if they are positive in building your family community. Remember, it is never too late to establish new traditions that will bring joy and invest in your family’s connectedness. Even connecting with family and friends via phone or video calling, during Covid times of restriction or where distance is a factor, can be a blessing and a highlight of the week. It may even become a new tradition.



Peter Goulter

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