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Family Rituals Help Us Grow Into Loving
I believe that if I had grown up with a more
nurturing and spiritual family life that I would not
have as many problems in my love life. As a single mom,
I struggle constantly to impart soulful love to my kids.
If I could create more of a spiritual environment in my
home with my kids, I think we would all benefit from the
"love fest" of good energy. I even believe
that this would help me attract a more spiritual and
kinder kind of man into my life, hence, theirs. Any
ideas? --Bonnie, Austin, Texas
Our families are the source of who we are and who we
become, and they certainly impact the way we seek out,
experience and conduct ourselves in adult relationships.
We donít need a double-bind study to prove that most
of us will grow up and adapt and become that which is
modeled to us in our early lives. Thus, negative
relationship patterns take root early and one of the
best ways to counteract bad relationship training and
ensure a better chance for the next generation is to
demonstrate a more spiritual, soulful model of love:
Love of ourselves Ö and healthy love for partners and
for our kids.
I agreeÖ a spiritual environment in your home will
nurture your children, enhance your family life, and
help create the context for your future relationships.
And thereís a bonus to nurturing our children and
imparting a soulful and loving lifestyle to them -- we
grow as well. In fact, such a conscious effort at
parenting helps us parent ourselves; bringing more
spirituality and soulful love to our children also feeds
the needy child within us that didnít get enough, way
My good friend Barbara Biziou, who I call "The
Queen of Rituals," is a national expert on every
day rituals. She has a couple of fabulous books that
focus on personal and family rituals and teach people
how to evoke practical spirituality in their lives in
ways that mesh well with their current lifestyle. The
Joy of Ritual:
Spiritual Recipes To
Celebrate Milestones, Ease Transitions and Make
Everyday Scared (Golden Books, 1999) has
been enjoyed by people from diverse cultures around the
world and The
Joy of Family
Rituals: Recipes for Everyday Living (St.
Martinís Press, April 2000), offers wonderfully
creative solutions to the challenges faced by modern
families. It can help even the most loving family share
more meaningful moments together -- even in the face of
mundane family activities like meal time and bed time --
as well as help bring healing and wholeness to families
in distress. She says the recipe for a successful,
loving family life is merging the sacred with the every
Barbaraís work fits right in with this issue on
personal rituals and I would like to share an interview
I did with her when The Joy of Family Rituals was
LSB: Do we need ritual in our lives and what do we
have to gain from it?
BB: Ritual, for me, is a way of bringing the sacred
into your life; a well-thought out, structured situation
in which to open to "spirit" that moves you
from one state of consciousness to another. As a result,
you often find your life changing and evolving in very
positive ways. They reinforce our own desires and
strengthen our ability to achieve them. They open up
resources we werenít aware we had and help us slow
down from the hectic pace of life.
How exactly does it work?
A ritual can take five minutes or five hours. It can
take five days. A ritual is a consciously designed set
of behaviors designed to evoke certain feelings and
experiences that are needed to effect change in oneís
life. It works on many levels. It influences the
subconscious mind. Part of the psyche doesnít know the
difference between performing a ritual and actually
experiencing an event. When you complete a ritual, you
are telling yourself you have completed whatever you
have symbolically enacted. For example, if you take a
ritual bath for purification, part of you literally
believes you have released the past. And so it becomes
true in your life
Why are family rituals so important?
To me family ritual is the anchor that really holds
the family together, the glue. One of my inspirations
for writing The Joy of Family Ritual is what I
have sadly noticed in families who do not share special
rituals: they often lack a deep connection, donít have
a rewarding family support system and the children are
feeling very alienated. Modern life is moving too fast
for people. Everyone has such a tight schedule that
unless you make room for structured family rituals you
can easily go for weeks, or even months, without truly
connecting to one another. Kids in these culture suffer
greatly when they are not feeling connected to a family
unit or a healthy community. They become disconnected,
stressed and in some case depressed. On The very deep
end of it you see drug use and kids acting out
violently, against others and themselves.
Are rituals created for families different than those
The same format is true--having a beginning, an
ending, a clear intention -- the difference would be
that when you are doing rituals with children that you
structure them to the age appropriate level. For little
kids, youíd make it a shorter ritual and youíd pay
more attention to making it appropriate to who is
involved. There are different ways to include children
and make them feel they are participating. Itís also
taking existing rituals -- mealtime, bath time and
bedtime -- and putting them in a more sacred container.
Youíd be amazed at how sharing a simple blessing at
mealtime can enhance peopleís lives!
Sounds like ritual takes the ho-hum out of family.
Right. And it doesnít have to be more work.
Thatís important for people to know... because people
who are so stressed out anyway will feel overwhelmed, as
if ritual is yet another thing they must
fit into the day. I believe ritual actually gives you
more free time because many of the recipes in The Joy
of Family Ritual allow the children to take
responsibility for part of it.
As the American family continues to change, how can
ritual help the transformational process with
stepfamilies and alternative families?
With so many extended families and alternative
families--single parents, re-marriages and stepparents,
adoption and same sex parents-- families are changing
today. Sometimes there are four sets of parents per
child! Ritual can help them adjust and change with the
times and include everyone. We are constantly shifting
individually and collectively as a family and it is
important to mark transitions with rituals... for
becoming a parent, blessing a new baby, becoming a
sibling, puberty and adoption, birthday and a parents
day that include step parents and god mothers. Itís a
celebration for kids to have in stead of traditional
mother or fathers day with their step or god parents; so
they donít have to feel split on the actual holiday, a
new date and ritual can be created.
How would you address preparing to become an adoptive
Nine months of pregnancy does not guarantee an easy
transition from non-parent to parent, but at least
youíve had some time to prepare. Adoptive parents to
prepare for parenthood so that it is not the shock
of: one minute single and the next a mother or father.
I recommend, first, a ritual on becoming a parent. Then,
an adoption ritual. Every year, you can do a ritual
called "Gothcha Day" celebrating the day the
child was adopted. Itís a way of being very honest
about the fact that the child is adopted and letting
them know that itís a special day.
How important are seasonal rituals for kids, such as
full moon and spring equinox? Seasonal rituals are
important because we are too out of touch with nature;
our children, especially our city kids, need to be more
in tune with the cycles of life. It gives them a better
understanding of how life works. Without a proper
understanding of natural cycles of life it is difficult
to unhook ourselves from our societyís orientated
toward instant gratification.
Do kids like rituals?
Kids feel safe with rituals. Itís the same thing as
wanting to constantly eat the same kind of food, go to
the same restaurant, or wear the same favorite T-shirt.
Familiarity and repetition -- hence, family ritual --
makes them feel safe and secure. Just as adults have
their lucky job interview outfit or a special object
they carry for good luck, the power of ritual comes from
the symbolism of the object or act. Symbols connect us
to our inner power, remind us who we are. For those who
are spiritually minded, you might say it connects them
to a higher power. To this day, taking my son Jordan out
for pizza remains a family tradition that has made him
feel deeply connected to me since childhood. Heís 27!
But pizza with mom still makes us feel bonded and
connected and joyous! That is truly the joy of family
On a deeper level, what does family ritual offer?
If there really is to be such a change in this new
millennium, itís like the song... "Let there be
peace on earth ...and let it begin with me." Let it
begin with the family unit. We should start as young as
possible and build strong family units that will be
inclusive of the new families. As family dynamics change
with time and the tides of the culture, we can continue
to create new rituals that are meaningful for all family
For More Information:
The Joy of Everyday Rituals (due in October
2001, St. Martinís Press)
What Ritual from Childhood Made You Feel Most Loved?
© Copyright 2001
Reverend Laurie Sue Brockway All Rights
Reverend Laurie Sue's Current Column
Reverend Laurie Sue's Past Columns:
2001 - "Dreams Warn Itís Time To Own Your Power"
2001 - "A Fun Visual of Your Favorite Romance"
May 2001 - "Someday
Your Mystical Soul Mate Will Come"
2001 - "Enjoy the Merriment and Fun of An Ancient Love
2001 - "Nourish Yourself On a Date for One"
2001 - "Get Ready for Soulful Love"
Reverend Laurie Sue
Brockway is an author, teacher and contemporary clergy
person who specializes in matters of the heart and soul.
As an ordained interfaith minister and
non-denominational wedding officiant, it is her honor to
regularly marry couples in love. Prior to becoming a
minister she enjoyed a successful and colorful 20 years
in media as a widely published journalist, editor and
author of eight books on relationships and
romanceóas well as being a noted spokesperson
on those topics. She was editor-in-chief of two national
magazines and several regional publications, and her
articles have been published around
the world and in many newspapers and national magazines,
such as the NY Daily News, The Washington Post,
Womenís News, New Woman, Ladiesí
Home Journal and Child. She evolved years of
specialized reporting in the field of male-female
relationship dynamics into a more spiritual pursuit that
led her to train to be an interfaith minister, and then
establish her wedding ministry along with her popular
relationship enhancement programs.
She continues to write on weddings, soul mates and enhancing relationships,
as well as teach on those topics. She's on the faculty of The Seminar Center
and MyPotential.com. and trains other ministers through World Light
Fellowship. She is a graduate of the New Seminary and a member of The
Association of Interfaith Ministers. Her wedding ministry is based in New
TO SOULFUL THOUGHTS