What is simple and fun activity that will help our family become closer?

When our threes sons were young, we started a new family tradition—the creation of a group art project. We trek off to the local art store together and purchase a large blank canvas and lots of acrylic paints and brushes. Then we divide the canvas into six sections with a light pencil mark. This gives each of us our boundaries to work within. Since there are five of us, the sixth space is usually shared by two who want to have another smaller shared space. We all then paint our own space, taking as long as we want. The entire project is normally completed within a day, with each person usually working in isolation of the others. Anything is acceptable.

Not only is this art project fun to do every year, but we all look at it frequently and are now able to compare the years. We can remember how old each of us was and the important things that happened. But the value of this group art project is that it is something done by our family as a group. It makes everyone feel attached, connected, and part of our family. When family members complete their individual canvas spaces, an amazingly integrated painting emerges.

Everyone needs to know and feel that they belong and play an important role in the family. They need to be involved in shaping the family culture in which they live and grow. Cultural traditions, like the shared canvas, are rituals. Rituals act like glue that holds the family together. Families can develop their own rituals. Any event the family enjoys and does regularly can be a ritual. It might be a fancy Friday dinner, a walk together early every Saturday morning, or a regular walk up the local mountain. (...continue reading)