As we move through fall and soon, the holiday season, I reflect on how many traditions we have as a family. Here are a few sacred family traditions from my childhood:
The tooth fairy must ALWAYS leave $1.26 or $2.26 depending on the size of the tooth
Thanksgiving is celebrated on the Friday after the holiday
An orange is expected in the toe of all stockings, which are opened before Christmas breakfast
Our family reunion is the last Sunday in July at noon sharp; BYO plates and silverware.
Each of these traditions is so much a part of me that I simply assumed I would carry them on to my own family. It never occurred to me that I should discuss with my husband to make sure he was okay with them! Lucky for me, he’s pretty easy going and has adopted them, even if they are a little strange.
When you introduce a new baby to your family, you and your partner will each have a notion of what is important to carry forward. What traditions are special to you? What beliefs and values do you want to pass along to your child? Theme pictures for Red Sox opening day, anyone? While you are preparing for a new baby take some time to talk these over with your partner and ask about their traditions and values. Discover what you have in common and where you might differ. Create a dream together for your new family. What you find may surprise you!
NOTE: It is also important to note that you may have ideas about what you want to leave behind and grow away from. Understanding these is just as important in defining your family values.
Initiating conversations with your partner about your traditions, beliefs, and values is a great way to deepen your understanding and respect for each other. Start with fun topics and common ground but don’t shy away from tougher topics as well. At Soutiens we have a list of “hot button topics” that we give all expectant parents as a conversation starter. It starts with things like common parenting decisions (infant sleep location, breastfeeding v. formula) and continues onto family dynamics (Let’s talk about the MIL visit) and religious foundations. Our advice is to begin talking about these things with your partner before the baby arrives. Navigating these potentially tricky conversations is exponentially more difficult when you are running on little sleep!
Remember that you and your partner are both going through a transformation as you become parents. Your values and priorities may shift. Experience and practicality may conflict with the mental image you had created. And that is ok. Give yourself and your partner grace to grow and change.
And perhaps you’ll find that you enjoy traditions that you never tried before. Even that blasted Elf on the Shelf is starting to grow on me!