Family / Kids / Parenting

Family Traditions Vikki'skidsRecently, my son had to write an essay for school about his favorite family tradition and, had I been asked to place I bet, I would have put all of my money on Christmas. Cookies, candy and gifts – a kid’s dream, right? But I would have lost the farm because he surprised me and wrote about family movie nights.

We started Family Movie Night last summer in an attempt to broker a peace treaty between the warring countries that were our children. They were constantly bickering and criticizing each other and it was incredibly annoying and there were many days that I wanted to set them on the curb with little signs around their necks that said “Free to good but separate homes”. More than anything, however, it made me sad. When you have more than one kid, you want them to get along. You want them to be like those lovable Brady kids not like sibling fight club.

So, we told them that we would have a movie night every week without fail if they made an effort to get along. That first week, you could almost see them grinding their teeth to dust as they held in their snappy remarks but they made it. We have had our weekly movie nights ever since.

I don’t really credit movie night with the truce; I think they are getting older and figuring out that they do enjoy each other’s company despite their different interests. They are learning to be kind to each other and support each other.

For me, movie night is just a time to take a break and relax. I assumed that my son’s favorite part would be the movie and the box of movie candy since we have media and candy limits in this here household. But, once again, he surprised me. He wrote that the best thing about movie nights was that he got to spend time with his family.

I don’t know if his essay taught him much but it reminded me that I need to stop assuming that I know how my children interpret events, that I know what is most important to them. My kids are big thinkers and, even though I know that, I still have those moments when I don’t give them enough credit.

As we approach the holiday season, family traditions take center stage. I recently asked my kids what they liked most about Thanksgiving and my daughter talked about making the whipped cream for the pies with her friend Luca every year and Miguel talked about making the cranberry sauce with me. When I asked what they liked most about Christmas, they both agreed that they liked Christmas eve the best because that’s when our chosen family comes over for food, drinks and fun.

They are learning the most important lessons without me having to ever say a word. Thankfully.



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  1. Can I just come observe you and Luisa being parents for a week… cause clearly you are doing it right!

  2. Love this post. Despite the fact that it is causing me to momentarily question our “one kid is enough” decision.

    I asked my daughter a similar question about family traditions once. I think she was 7. Her answer: “When you make funny jokes about people on the sidewalk when we’re driving by.”

    Thanks for the shame recall, Vikki. Thanks ever so much.

    • I laughed out loud at this. I want to hang with you because your traditions are better than mine!

      • You can hang with us any time. Other traditions you will observe: the garbage game (wherein the loser is the one who has to empty it because she can no longer tamp down the trash and close the lid), Friday night dinners of chips and beer (orange crush for the minor), and regular contributions to the child’s therapy fund.

  3. My kind of night! Growing up, we used to play rummy and the loser had to make the salad. We all hated making the salad.

  4. Oh–us too! We have “Family Date Night.” We started it when my partner had to go back to the university town several days a week again because her sabbatical was over. Now every weekend the moms get “date night” but the whole family gets one too. Sometimes we go out somewhere, but most often, we pop corn and watch something on Netflix. To see the kids anticipate it, you would think it was a trip to Disney World every Saturday.

    BTW, on siblings and their fighting, I love the Positive Discipline books. There’s one especially about sibs if you haven’t already read it back and forth and memorized, which you may well have done…

    I have actually caught myself resorting to the old saw about how someday I’ll be dead and all they’ll have is each other. (GAH!)

  5. How do you choose the movie? My little one is too young (17 months) and we don’t let her watch TV anyway. My sister implemented the same idea with her kids and it worked for a while. Then, they began to bicker and squabble over the movie choice!

  6. “I need to stop assuming that I know how my children interpret events, that I know what is most important to them. My kids are big thinkers and, even though I know that, I still have those moments when I don’t give them enough credit.” I love this.

  7. I love this too. Your kids sound awesome.

    We alternate who chooses whatever we’re watching, but an official movie night with popcorn and candy sounds like a lot of fun. (And like you, Vikki, I suspect anything involving more candy than is normally permitted would be wildly popular.)

    Clare, I think you should rotate movies in English, Spanish, and whatever your current local language is. Your sister could do the same. 😉

    I’m totally asking the kids what family traditions they like. Or have noticed.

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