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Traditions are a way to enjoy a sense of shared history and belonging within the home. For women nurturing non-traditional families, traditions are especially important because we seek to nurture our hearts and the hearts of others within a setting that can be, well … less than nurturing.  This may mean shared custody arrangements, disrupted living schedules, and split holidays. Traditions may seem like one of those lovely concepts that “normal” families enjoy but that are heart-wrenchingly outside our grasp. Don’t despair, sweet friends! The irregular circumstances may not be ideal, but let me assure you, a little chaos can’t stop a great tradition!

In their book Corporate Celebration, Deal and Key outline a truth that applies to families as well as corporations:

“Celebrations infuse life with passion and purpose …They bond people together and connect us to shared values and myths. Ceremonies and rituals create community, fusing individual souls with the corporate [family] spirit. When everything is going well, ritual occasions allow us to revel in our glory. When times are tough, ceremonies draw us together, kindling hope and faith that better times lie ahead.”

Children thrive on the security created by a custom or tradition. It creates a staple, a sense of “normalcy” in their lives. This is especially important in a non-traditional family. Traditions create a sense of “family story” which invites children up into something bigger then the challenges of everyday life.

Tool Tips:

  1. Create traditions that can be practiced around a specific celebration, but not necessarily on a specific day. This will save heartache for you and the children if schedules are disrupted.
  2. Create traditions that encourage each member of the family to participate.
  3. Create traditions that encourage each member of the family to participate.

Andrea Peters is the author of The Heart Gardener: Nurturing Non-Traditional Families. More resources for those in the midst of family struggle may be found on or follow us on Twitter@HeartGardeners.