As some of us celebrate Chinese New Year, or any other holiday for that matter, perhaps we face resistance from our children who question why we still stick with age-old traditions that seem irrelevant. How can we inculcate values which have been passed down through generations and help our children to value traditions.
Perhaps it’s the practice of staying up late on the night before Chinese New Year or greeting elders with oranges, or decorating the home, all these are part of traditions and rituals that our families value. How do we teach our offspring the value of such practices and why are they important?
Why Parents Should Teach Our Children The Value Of Traditions
First, explain the importance of tradition to your children. Each family practises its own traditions according to their cultural backgrounds. This uniqueness might not be shared by everyone but specific to the family. Nonetheless, traditions and family rituals are big part of our identity. This gives our children a sense of belonging to their family or even their set of beliefs and country.
Besides our sense of identity, traditions are also part of a shared belief system in a community. Having a sense of belonging is part of being human. It also gives us more confidence in our own lives and community-mindedness. It is often a positive sense of identity we develop knowing who we are and where we come from.
We can learn to appreciate the cultural norms of others and understand different cultures better. Celebrating other cultural festivals of others, for instance, leads to a greater understanding of the world around us and the increasingly diverse societies.
Ways to Teach the Value of Traditions
1. Role Model as a Keeper of Tradition
As parents and caregivers, we do have the privilege of upholding traditions and practising the ones e want to keep. As we honour our elders with the usual Chinese New Year greetings or ask for their forgiveness during Hari Raya Adilfitri, we are showing our children how to practise the traditions and the importance of them.
2. Be Intentional about Celebrations
It could mean a lot of work putting together feasts, or springcleaning and dressing the home as well as people at home. Perhaps we can be more intentional of what we choose to do and why we choose to do it rather than going through the motion mindlessly. We can then decide on the scale of celebrations, who we wish to celebrate with and cater to the immediate needs to those deemed closer or more important to the family.
3. Involve the Children
Children can help and are very enthusiastic about helping most of the time. Simply give them the opportunity! Making decorations together, rolling pineapple paste, decluttering or dusting, washing or chopping vegetables, stirring the pot – these are ways to involve them!
4. Engage the Children
We have suggested activities here for families too just for Chinese New Year. Reading of books together, visiting festive markets and other Chinese New Year events are fun ways to engage the children during the celebrations.
Happy Celebrating Your Cultural Identity
Embrace the traditions and take the opportunity to celebrate your cultural identity. Communal feasting and gatherings only come a few times a year and we could cherish them more as members of a community. Let’s also pass on the joys of traditions with our children so they may in their time, celebrate the cultural norms as we did.