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That Was Then: Sharing Family Traditions With Your Grandchildren

grandparent and toddler making dough

By Claire Lerner

Traditions—routines and rituals that we repeat across time and across generations—provide a sense of family connection and family identity. Here are some tips to including young children in your family traditions.

Young children, who already thrive on routines, seem to especially enjoy participating in family traditions. Also, traditions are special times, usually full of love and a sense of closeness and nurturing.

Here are some tips to including young children in your family traditions:

Share family stories and songs.

Sing a lullaby your mother or father sang to you. Choose stories about when you were a child—games you played, places you visited, funny things your pets did.

Remember that it’s the journey, not the destination.

For example, you and your grandchild might have a ball baking a special family recipe together, but then your grandchild won’t take a bite. The memory of pouring, stirring, and mixing is more important than the tasting.

Set your grandchild up for success.

Think about what role your grandchild might have in a particular family ritual. If decorating your home is a holiday tradition, look for child-safe decorations that your grandchild can help you hang.


One of the most special things about grandparents is that they are often happy to let young children take their time. Think about how good it feels to be with someone who enjoys being with you and doesn’t rush you.

Grandparents Today Matter More Than Ever

Almost 24% of grandchildren under 5 are cared for by grandparents. That’s no small feat! We’ve developed grandparent guides and infographics to help support these critical caregivers.

Starting New Traditions

Remember that it’s never too late to begin a new tradition—one that is unique and special to you and your grandchild. Here are some ideas:

Enjoy a special mealtime tradition.

For an example, blueberry pancakes on Sunday morning or creating a special way to show thanks at the dinner table.

Tell a story you’ve made up especially for your grandchild.

The memory of shared stories can last a lifetime.

Look for ways to make an everyday routine memorable.

Turn a regular bathtime into a tub full of bubbles or have a winter picnic inside.

Embrace technology to create new traditions.

For grandparents who talk to their grandchildren over the Internet, create a ritual for saying hello or good-bye, for example, a special way that you blow a kiss into the webcam.

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