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Your brain on the holidays: Pry apart the significance of your favorite traditions and learn to cope with December stress.

Family Traditions

Love notes for our kids

Family Traditions
My mother died suddenly when she was only 58 years old. This was an event that has affected me deeply. She died over fifteen years ago, but I think of her nearly every day. 

One of the things that my mother’s death made me do was to ask myself, “If I knew I was going to die tomorrow, what would I want to do?” The answer was, “I’d want to make sure that my children know how much I love them.” 

I suppose that’s a morbid question, but the answer inspired me to create a tradition for our family.  

I bought a small blank book for each person in our family. In December or January (depending on schedules), each family member secretly writes three things that they love about each other family member in that person’s book.  

The entries begin with the words “I love how you…”  

When the kids were younger, they would dictate their responses, and my husband or I would serve as scribe. As the kids got older, they wrote their own entries. 

Of course, I got some complaints along the lines of “I don’t know what to write,” and “Do I really have to come up with THREE things?”—but not too many!  

To help the kids figure out what to write, I have some prompts on an index card: 

“What do you like or admire most about ____? 

What is the nicest thing ____ has done for you either lately or this year? 

What do you enjoy doing with ____?”  

Then we pick a day to read the entries aloud together. Some topics come up year after year, some are new. There’s always a lot of giggling but also a warm glow. We have other traditions related to holidays and birthdays, but this made-up tradition is one of my favorites. It’s been a wonderful way to celebrate what’s most important within our family: cherishing each other.  

What traditions does your family enjoy? 


© Eileen Kennedy-Moore, PhD. Google+

Eileen Kennedy-Moore, PhD, is an author and clinical psychologist in Princeton, NJ (lic. # 35SI00425400). She frequently speaks at schools and conferences about parenting and children’s social and emotional development. 

Check out Dr. Kennedy-Moore’s books on Helping Children Get Along™:

-- Smart Parenting for Smart Kids: Nurturing Your Child's True Potential || Chapters include: Tempering Perfectionism; Building Connection; Developing Motivation; Finding Joy.

-- The Unwritten Rules of Friendship: Simple Strategies to Help Your Child Make Friends || Chapters include: The Shy Child; The Little Adult; The Short-Fused Child; The Different Drummer.

-- What About Me? 12 Ways To Get Your Parents' Attention Without Hitting Your Sister 

Growing Friendships blog posts are for general educational purposes only. They may or may not be relevant for your particular situation. You’re welcome to link to this post, but please don’t reproduce it without written permission from the author. 

photo credit: Steven Depolo 

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