Family Traditions

Ways Teenagers Can Help Parents in Economic Hardship

Changing Habits

A teen accustomed to driving her own car, shopping with her friends or inviting the crew over for chips and soda while they play video games can help a financially strapped family by adjusting her lifestyle and expectations. Before you tell your teen she'll need to hand over her keys until the family can pay for insurance on her car again, sit down with her and ask her how she can help. She'll be much happier to implement ideas she comes up with than ones that are imposed on her.

Additional Chores

A teen who does extra chores can have a positive effect on his parents' wallet. Trimming the hedges and mowing the yard regularly can save you from paying a landscaping company to do the work, if that's your current setup. Teens can learn to garden to help the family save on food bills, clean the closets and hold a garage sale or start dinner after school so you won't be tempted to order pizza after a long day at work.

Being Supportive

In a society that values wealth and a social status, teens can find it difficult to embrace the reality of financial hardship. While this is normal, you should nonetheless encourage him to adopt a supportive attitude. Let him know that whining, sulking or otherwise bemoaning the state of the family's financial affairs does nothing to help, and that happiness does not depend on circumstances. Model the behavior you wish for him to see by supporting other family members and making statements along the lines of, "No matter what, we have each other, and that's what counts."

A Job

Upon learning of the family's economic circumstances, your teen's first response might be to offer to get a job and help take care of the family. While this is admirable, use caution. Sometimes teens can take on the family's financial burden and find themselves in a parenting role, warns Donovan. This can cause psychological stress as the teen is not equipped for this level of responsibility. If your teen does decide to get a job to help the family, steer him toward using the money to contribute to his college education, transportation expenses or other expense that does not entail him directly supporting you.

How to Choose the Symbols on a Family Crest

Design an overall layout of your family crest to determine how many symbols you will need. Sketch a shield in the center of the crest. Include a banner at the top and bottom of the shield to feature your name, motto or country.

Consider your family’s heritage, current situation or goals to select a meaningful color scheme. Choose blue to represent truth and loyalty, white to represent peace and serenity, or red to represent passion and strength. Use as many colors as you'd like for your family crest.

Choose the symbol for the center of the shield based on its meaning, such as an anchor to represent hope, a bear to represent strength, or a cross to represent faith. Select a symbol that represents your family’s overall purpose or one that represents what binds you together.

Divide the shield into four quadrants and select a symbol for each quadrant. Consider choosing a symbol for each person in the family or to represent your goals as a family. Pick a shepherd’s hook for the ever-watchful mother, a deer for the peacekeeper in the family or a sword for the protective father. Make the shield a meaningful centerpiece to your family crest.

Select a top mantle that will hover over the shield on the family crest. Choose a classic swirl of ribbon with feathered ends, or design your own graphic that follows your chosen color scheme.

Choose a shield supporter for each side of your shield. Follow the theme from your shield symbols, and select an animal such as a lion to represent dauntless courage or a griffin to represent valor.

How to Write a Family Mission Statement

Gather all the family members that live in the same house. Include small children, children who only visit on the weekends and grandparents who might live in the home.

Explain that together you will be creating a family mission statement. Describe the benefits of having a mission statement and how it keeps the family moving in the same direction. Describe it as a road map, rather than a list of rules or requirements.

Define your specific family by asking everyone to suggest adjectives that fit your family. Suggestions could include funny, smart, caring, active or quirky. Make sure everyone throws out an adjective or two. Write these on a white board for everyone to see.

Brainstorm ideas to be included in the mission statement. Allow everyone to contribute and do not censor any ideas. Start off the discussion with some examples and questions. What would a stranger think when they saw your family interact? What inside jokes or stories does your family have? What goals do you have as a family? What traits are admired and what is unacceptable?

Put several of these ideas in sentence form. Write as many sentences that are necessary. An example might be "The Smith family accepts everyone as they are but encourages change and growth for the better. We speak to one another in respect and show consideration at all times. We value privacy and trust. We agree that there are consequences to all of our actions and we agree to take responsibility for our own actions. Together we can impact each other and our community for the better."

Edit your statement until everyone is agreement with both the words and the sentiment. Hone the words down to the bare minimum to express your statement.

Craft a family motto. This should be one sentence that encapsulates your family's mission statement. It should be easy to remember and touch on at least a few of the points in your mission statement. It could be "Do unto others as you have them do unto you" or "Return with honor." It also could be funny or in code, as long as your family knows what it means and represents.

Print out your motto and family mission statement. Have everyone sign and date it. Post it somewhere so it can be seen and referenced. As good or bad decisions are made, tie it back to the family mission statement.

Revise your mission statement as time passes. Perhaps every New Year or anniversary date, you might need to edit the statement to grow with your family.

Things You Will Need

  • Pen
  • Dry erase marker and dry erase board or chalk and chalk board
  • Paper


Print out the mission statement and motto onto small business cards. Have both the adults and children carry them in their purses or wallets.

Retreats For Families


It’s easy for families to fall out of touch or grow distant due to the demands of school, work and other daily responsibilities. This is why some families choose to go on a quiet, relaxing retreat instead of a busy vacation. Retreats help families rediscover shared interests, reestablish meaningful communication and revive deteriorating relationships with each other. Retreats also provide opportunities for families to work out difficult issues together, decompress and unwind from life’s demands and struggles. Retreats can also help families heal from extraordinary problems or tragedies, such as a death in the family or substance abuse. Some retreats prepare families for difficult situations, such as a family member going off to serve in the Armed Forces, or to help them reconnect after deployment. Other retreats encourage family members to strengthen and reaffirm their spiritual beliefs and values.


Retreats for families often take place in a quiet, isolated setting, where technology is unavailable or limited and the distractions of city or suburban life are nowhere to be found. Natural settings such as woodland cabins, camping grounds or the secluded countryside are popular options for family retreats. Many religious organizations and family services centers provide quiet retreat locations that aren’t quite so removed from civilization. Monasteries, private retreat centers, churches and schools are also common places for family retreats.


Retreat procedures and options vary by type, organization and place. Some family retreats last a weekend or longer, while others are only a daylong event. Some family retreats bring groups of other families together, while others provide private places and events for individual groups. You can choose a family retreat that features structured bonding activities lead by a retreat counselor or coordinator, or you can plan your own, unstructured family retreat and choose meaningful activities as you see fit. One benefit to organized, staffed retreats is that amenities, activities, lodgings and meals are provided by trained staff and included in retreat rates.


Organized retreats usually offer an array of activities designed to help families reconnect, establish trust, communicate and bond. Activities range from team challenges, inspirational presentations, leisure interests -- such as fishing or canoeing -- and crafts to therapy sessions, interventional meetings and spiritual masses. If you’re organizing your own family retreat, be sure to plan meaningful activities that will encourage communication, collaboration and bonding, such as storytelling circles, nature hikes or campfire meals.

How to Create a Close-Knit Family

Enjoy the simple things in life with your children. Take a walk, go to an art museum and taste new foods at cultural fairs. Avoid filling each afternoon with endless activities and classes, and allow your kids to have plenty of downtime to go outside or play a game around the kitchen table.

Include your children in your daily activities instead of living parallel but separate lives. Let your kids hang out with you on occasion when you are talking to your friends instead of distracting them with your tablet or a pack of crayons. Teach your children the art of conversation and the joy of lingering around a restaurant table to discuss life. Create a family culture where everyone has value.

Connect with your kids on a daily basis by eating dinner together. Eating meals together as a family lowers your child’s risk of getting involved with drugs, alcohol and experimenting with sex at an early age, according to Aha! Parenting. Make sure to give your kids plenty of attention, include everyone in the conversation and laugh together.

Show affection to your children to create feelings of attachment, from bear hugs to high fives. Play together and participate in enjoyable activities, such as going to the movies, bowling or camping. Realize that a playful family cures stressful days and relationship tension.

Encourage open communication between family members and discourage secrets. Allow each family member to express his opinion and talk through difficult emotional times. Show your children how to support and stand up for each other.


Close-knit families often put others first, help each other through crises and spend time with their siblings outside of the house.

Family Motto Ideas

Research Your Name

Your family name may already have an interesting motto associated with it, especially if you happen to have a last name from Scotland or England. Many English families had coats of arms, and many Scottish families were organized into tightly-knit clans in the past, each with its own distinctive slogan. For instance, the MacKintosh clan had the fierce-sounding motto "touch not the cat without a glove," the Keith clan had the slogan "truth conquers" and the slogan of the Lindsays was "endure with strength." You can research your last name to find out if it already has a historical motto.

Latin Mottoes

Some historic family mottoes were in the Latin language, such as "arno probos" or "love proves" and "fides et justitia" or "faith and justice." You can find hundreds of examples of Latin mottoes in any book on knightly heraldry. A Latin motto can be an impressive way to express your values and hopes for your family, such as "esperance" or "hope." Some historic mottoes are in other languages such as French or even Gaelic.

Create Your Own Motto

In the past, families sometimes used their mottoes to express something unusual about themselves. For instance, Scotland's MacDonald clan used the motto "per mare per terras," which means "by sea or by land." For a clan based on the remote islands of the Scottish Hebrides, this was a very appropriate slogan. Think of something that makes your family unlike any other, and you can use it to create your own special motto. For example, a family living next to a fast stream could use the slogan "as strong as rushing waters."

Create a Family Crest

Making a family crest to display your motto can be a fun craft project to do with your kids. Look at some examples of historic crests to get an idea of how heraldry works, then pick a symbol to represent your family. Many heraldic crests display animals such as dogs or lions rearing up on their hind legs. You could cut out a piece of cardboard in the shape of a shield, draw the family dog or cat in an impressive pose, color in the image with your kids and hang it up with your motto displayed on it, for everyone to see. Kids interested in history, knights or fantasy fiction would find this especially exciting.

Family & Community Activities


Many communities have celebrations throughout the year. Those can include national celebrations, such as Fourth of July fireworks celebrations, Thanksgiving parades and Christmas lights tours. Some communities have founder’s day celebrations and other celebrations that relate to the area’s history. Your family can attend these events, participate in parades and assist with the celebrations. While participating, your family could meet neighbors, learn more about the community and network with families to find out about more events, organizations and opportunities.

Municipal Participation

Municipalities often have periodic meetings to let members of the community know what’s going on. You can take your family to “meet the candidate” evenings to learn who your local officials are and what they stand for. Municipal meetings also let residents know about proposed and requested changes, such as zoning and regulation changes. As a family activity, it helps kids understand how government works, involves you in politics that could benefit your family and lets the movers and shakers in your community know you are involved and watching them.

Arts and Carnivals

Many communities have theaters that use residents as performers. If your family has acting or musical talents, a family member can find a place to display that talent. Other family members can participate by building scenery, helping with costumes and props or selling tickets. Your young children could participate or watch puppet shows or take advantage of museum and art exhibits. Art competitions and science fairs offer opportunities for your kids to display their talents and creativity. Your family can also attend street fairs and carnivals with activities for the entire family.

Environmental Events

Involve your family in beautification efforts such as picking up trash in the parks or planting flowers and trees provided by the city on Arbor Day and Earth Day, both of which occur in April. Participation in these events teaches your family to take responsibility for the environment in enjoyable and practical ways that are visible in the community. Some communities use carnivals and other activities to entice families to get out and learn about ways to support a community’s resources, recycling and other methods of caring for the community and the planet.

Family Activities in Madison, Alabama

Indoor Fun

Enjoy a family game of bowling at the family-oriented Madison Bowling Center -- a bowling alley and entertainment complex near Madison Square Mall. Visit the bowling alley on Wednesdays for half off regular daytime rates. The Huntsville-Madison County Public Library system has several branches that host a variety of family-friendly events and programs. Bring your child to a weekly story time geared for his age group where he will have opportunity to listen to stories and rhymes, sing music and put together a craft. Or, you can attend a monthly family movie night, themed puppet show or live concert at one of the local branches.

Outdoor Adventures

For a family game of miniature golf, visit Madison's Insanity Complex with slopes, sand traps and water hazards. After you finish practicing your putting, stop by the center's batting cages and practice your baseball or softball skills. For a more peaceful outdoor experience, take a hike along the Madison County Nature Trail. The 72-acre park is high above the city and surrounds Sky Lake. Walk the 1 1/2-mile walking trail, fish in the lake, enjoy a picnic at the pavilion, and take a few family photographs along the covered bridge and near the largest and oldest Champion Winged Elm tree in the state of Alabama.


At the EarlyWorks Family of Museums, your family can take in the Alabama Constitution Village, the Historic Huntsville Depot and EarlyWorks Children's History Museum all in one stop. The Children's History Museum is hands-on and interactive -- perfect for your little explorer. At the Historic Depot, your family can experience what life was like on the rails in 1860. The Constitutional Village is a living museum that embodies the Alabama of 1819, when it was organized as the 22nd state. You can also take the family to see a huge collection of space memorabilia and rockets at Madison County's U.S. Space and Rocket Center, where you can enjoy the exhibits and view a film at the full-dome IMAX Theater.

Play Areas

The Play Place, located in the Madison Publix Shopping Center, is an indoor play facility where you can bring your little one to hang out in ball pits and run, climb and slide on inflatable bouncy houses while you relax in the adult area. A similar facility, Pump It Up has indoor play areas with bouncy houses and obstacle courses. It hosts weekly family jump activities to allow families a safe and clean area to play while they connect with one another. Southern Adventures, a family-oriented water and amusement park, offers plenty of activities in which families can participate including a climbing wall, bumper cars, go-kart racing and water slides.

How to Start a Family Tradition With Family Game Night

Plan a family game night that fits your family. Choose the time and length of the family night -- right after dinner for an hour or two might work for most families. Determine how the family will choose games to play -- taking turns would be appropriate. Set a game time limit so everyone has a chance to choose a game.

Hold a family meeting with everyone in attendance to discuss the new tradition. Encourage excitement about your plan by talking about the various games you might play -- board games as well as electronic games, perhaps. Ask family members to discuss various games they would like to play. Discuss other aspects of the family game night as well, including snacks and food you might serve and a family rule about no phones or other distractions during game night.

Choose a night that works for everyone -- either weekly, twice monthly or monthly, depending on family desires and schedules, advises the First Family Church website. Encourage everyone to plan schedules around the game night to enable everyone to attend.

Purchase special snacks or food for family game night that will appeal to the family. If your family’s selection of board games is low, purchase a few new games to start the tradition on a positive note.

Prepare for family game night prior to the time by making the snacks. Remind each family member about family game night earlier in the day so everyone remembers.

Hold the family game night as planned, serving food and playing games according to your plan. At the conclusion of the family game night, ask everyone for their thoughts and opinions about the game night. If family members have ideas about how to improve the festivities, discuss and implement the ideas as you deem appropriate.

Continue family game nights according to your scheduled plan. Every time the game night approaches, remind family members so they will anticipate the evening. Ask for suggestions for food to serve and games to place on the roster.

Things You Will Need

  • Board games
  • Snacks


If an older child balks at the idea of family night, you might allow him to invite one friend, suggests the Kansas State University website. Institute a policy about fair rules of play to ensure that family game night remains positive and respectful. Suggested rules include good sportsmanship for both winners and losers, rule changes with everyone’s agreement and only positive, uplifting comments between players.

What Do Teenagers Do With Their Families?

Sports and Hobbies

Enjoy a family outing to events that both kids and parents enjoy, such as concerts, movies or sporting events. Support your teenager who plays a sport or participates in another school activity and attend games or competitions to cheer him on. Plan activities that incorporate your teenager’s interests. As a family, you can participate in arts and crafts activities, bake cookies, watch sporting events on television or choose another activity that your teen enjoys. Take a walk in nature or a bike ride around the neighborhood to spend time together outdoors.


Make meal time a regular family activity in your home. Use this time as an opportunity to find out what is happening in your teenager’s and other family members' lives. Ask open-ended questions, such as “What is the best thing that happened to you today?” or “What is the most challenging thing that happened today and how did you deal with it?” Spend 15 minutes together in the morning for breakfast before everyone heads out the door. During the weekends, plan a picnic to enjoy lunchtime together. Instead of sitting in front of the television or eating separate meals, eat dinner together as often as possible. Sit around the table, turn off phones and enjoy each others' company.


Plan a family vacation during the summer, school breaks or even a weekend trip. Whether it’s an overnight camping adventure or a long overseas vacation, traveling is an excellent way to spend time together as a family. Vacations give families time away from hectic schedules to enjoy laughing, playing and having a good time. Discover new interests, learn new skills together and strengthen family relationships by planning a trip that everyone can enjoy.

Family Night

Plan family nights at home with your kids. Turn off all cell phones and laptops so there are not any distractions. Enjoy a movie or catch up on your favorite television series. Board games and card games are other activities that all family members can enjoy. Ask your teenager for input on family night ideas. If your teen is interested in what you are watching or doing, he is more likely to actively participate.

How to Plan an Appreciation Dinner for a Family Member

Set a date and invite other family members to the appreciation dinner. If the party is supposed to be a surprise, be sure to tell the invitees know not to spill the beans to the guest of honor. Ask each guest to bring a card or a short hand-written note about why he appreciates the guest of honor. Kids can color a picture, others can write down their favorite memory of the honoree and the family writer can make up a clever poem about her.

Decorate the dinner table and surrounding area with paper goods and decorations in the honoree's favorite color. Adjust the types of decorations based on the age and gender of the guest of honor -- Grandma might prefer flowers, while a younger honoree might get a kick out of colorful balloons.

Plan the menu based on the guest of honor's favorite foods. You can follow a "theme" or type of food if that's meaningful to the honoree -- French food for the teenager who just mastered her French final, for example. Don't worry about having a balanced meal or pleasing everyone. If Grandpa really wants all his fave, old-fashioned comfort foods, great. And it's OK for the meal to consist of hot dogs, chicken nuggets, mac 'n' cheese and ice cream with gummy worms if that's what your 4-year-old would pick if he were king for a day, because that's what he is!

Start the meal by going around the table and having each guest say something he appreciates about the honoree. Record the comments so the honoree can listen to them later. Put the cards, notes and pictures the guest brought into a home-made album or binder after the event so the honored family member has a special memento of the occasion.

Family Night-Themed Craft Ideas

Family Collage

Commemorate family night activities with a keepsake collage you make. Gather family photos and have the entire gang help you organize them into themes such as holidays, birthdays, vacations or back to school. Start with a collage base. Reuse a cardboard box, by flattening it or cutting off one of the sides to create the base. Ask each family member to choose a few favorite photos, with at least one from each category. Work together to glue the photos to the base. Have each family member take turns placing the photos on the base until the surface is full.

Decorative Clothing

Come together as a group to make your own "family team" T-shirts, sweat shirts or other clothing item. Pre-wash the clothing you plan to use before the crafting starts. Insert a piece of scrap cardboard in between shirt layers to keep the designs from transferring through from the front to the back. Brainstorm a family design. Choose a family crest, a meaningful picture or just use your family's name. Using nontoxic fabric paints or markers, have each family member draw the design onto the clothing items. Add a sprinkle of glitter to puffy fabric paint to create a special sparkle for your family night craft.

Photo Frame

Every time that you schedule a family night, pick up and unfinished wood frame from your local arts and crafts supply store. Set up a tripod and take a family photo on your special parent-child night. Have the whole family help to paint the frame with tempera, adding a decorative pattern such as polka dos or stripes. Another option is to glue on craft foam shapes or letters that spell your family's name. After the paint dries, print the photo and then frame it.

Hand Print Art

If your child won't let you hold his hand just like he did when he was small, make an artistic representation of his hand that will last for a lifetime. Pour tempera or finger paints onto a paper plate. Have each family member dip one hand, palm down, into the paint. Collectively, press your hands on the same piece of construction or card stock paper. After the paint dries, have each person can sign his name next to his hand.

How to Create Awesome Family Memories

Hold a family meeting to discuss desires and make plans. You might meet monthly to talk about upcoming activities, make plans for excursions and discuss recent outings. Give every family member a chance to share thoughts and feelings to ensure that everyone feels heard and valued. Implement ideas for activities throughout the coming month to ensure that your family creates memories.

Think about memories you have from your own childhood to discern what makes a memory special and distinct. While you may have fond memories of family vacations and special excursions, your memories probably also include less-involved activities as well, like Sunday dinners or picnics at the park. The memories you carry with you are representative of your values and ideals, and you can use them to create new memories and carry on family traditions.

Grab every moment, both big ones and small ones, and make the most of them with the family. It’s all about energy and attitude and making every moment count. You could even make weekly trips to the grocery store memorable for everyone if you approach the task with a positive attitude and an adventurous spirit. Imagine the scavenger hunt possibilities for everyone if you scour the aisles and shelves to find unusual and exotic food items.

Make a habit of having a camera handy to capture candid photos as they happen. With the technological capabilities of cell phones and smartphones, this is easier than ever before. Whip out your camera often to take pictures of family members having fun and enjoying life. Once you start amassing family photos, make albums and scrapbooks to document activities and to make it possible to remember them, advises the University of Illinois Extension.

Encourage positive interaction between family members. Setting the example as the parent, laugh often, listen actively to everyone, speak honestly and demonstrate the value that you place on your family. These attitudes should help create a positive air of love and community within your family.

Talk about enjoyable activities and excursions after they occur. The family lore that develops with the telling and retelling of tales and activities is part of what gives families their rich and loving traditions. Even little children will grasp and learn these important traditions when they grow up listening to family members reiterate stories with delight.