Tag Archive for rituals

“Cheat Codes” for Dads: Shared Rituals

If you play video games, you know the value of a good “cheat code.” They help the player advance to a new level or gain a special power. Other “cheat codes” help the gamer obtain a special tool or weapon needed in the game.

If you’re a Dad of daughters, you may feel as though you need a “cheat code.” You may want inside information to help you move toward an advanced level of understanding in relation to your daughter. You likely desire a “cheat code” that will open a gateway to a special power of influencing your daughter toward maturity.  If so, I have just what you’re looking for: “cheat codes” for dads raising daughters.

Previous “cheat codes” discussed include:

Now it’s time for another.

The Cheat Code: Shared Rituals.

Purpose: With Shared Rituals, you will…

  1. Increase the time you and your daughter spend together. This will help you build a more intimate relationship with her.
  2. With rituals in place, the need to discipline negative behaviors will decrease. (How to Discipline Before You Even Need To.)
  3. In addition, your daughter’s sense of security will increase. She will feel safer in a home with predictability.
  4. Because she feels safer, your daughter will have greater freedom to explore and learn about her world and herself. In fact, The Gift of Freedom is Wrapped in Safety.
  5. Rituals will also help your daughter pursue goals and have a greater sense of purpose in life. (Routines & rituals Add Meaning To Life.)
  6. Your daughter will gain a greater sense of independence and mastery with appropriate routines in place.

Value: Creating shared rituals with your daughter has two great values. First, your shared rituals will guarantee that you spend time with your daughter. Spending time with your daughter in a shared ritual deepens your relationship with her and increases her sense of security. Second, shared rituals build predictability into your relationship and your home. This predictability will increase your daughter’s sense of security. With the knowledge of her close relationship to you and the predictability of her environment, your daughter will feel safer to explore her world and herself. She will pursue greater goals. All in all, routines will deepen your relationship with your daughter, empower your daughter to explore her world, and increase your daughter’s sense of competence. Who doesn’t want that?

Instructions: ThreeShared Rituals to create…

  1. “Daddy-Daughter Time.” Set aside one time a week (an evening, an afternoon, a day…whatever time works best) as time dedicated to your daughter. This will become known as “Daddy-Daughter Time.” Let nothing interfere with that time.
  2. Find out what your daughter enjoys doing. If you don’t know, ask her. If she’s not sure, ask her what kind of activities and foods she would like to try or places she would like to visit. Each week during “Daddy-Daughter Time,” do one of one of those activities with your daughter. Or, go to one of the places you have agreed upon. You might play Barbies, go to a movie, get ice cream, or go rock climbing. Your options are as broad as your daughter’s potential interests and creativity. These first three steps represent what I believe to be one of the most powerful shared rituals you can do with your daughter. You will never regret having engaged her in this way.
  3. Become involved in your daughter’s bedtime routine. This may include reading with her, talking about the day, sharing things for which you are grateful, and giving her a simple hug and kiss goodnight. Bedtime is an amazing time to bond with your daughter.
  4. Create a shared mealtime ritual with your daughter and your whole family. Strive to eat one meal a day together. If you can’t do one meal a day, do at least 3-5 meals a week. Establish the nights and keep the “meal date.” The shared ritual of eating together offers a wonderful opportunity to talk, share, and bond. (Learn the benefits of eating as a family in The Lost Art of Family Meals.)

Mom was Right…Again!!

Mom was right again. I almost hate to say it, but she ends up right more often than not. She always said, “Eat your vegetables,” and now several scientific studies support her demands on my young taste buds. (When did science start siding with my mother anyway?) A study of 13,983 adults in England suggests that eating fruits and vegetables

isolated fruit salad

improved positive mood and quality of life. (How did she know?) Another study reports those who ate seven servings of fruits and vegetables in a day reported more positive affect for that day and the next day! (Is that why my mother always said, “Eat an apple” when I asked for a cookie?) Other studies have shown that eating five-to-eight servings of fruits and vegetables each day was associated with greater happiness, reduced nervousness, and reduced feelings of “downheartedness.” (She always said, “Happy children eat their peas.” Really?)


The positive effect of eating fruits and vegetables does not stop in childhood either. Eating healthy servings of fruits and vegetables during adolescence is associated with reports of more positive physical health in early adulthood. Even in middle adulthood eating fruits and vegetables was related to greater optimism (the antioxidants in fruits and vegetables is thought to play a part in this).


Mom was right. Her demand to eat fruits and vegetables during my childhood improved my childhood, my young adult years, and now even impacts my middle adulthood years. So, once again, I tip my hat to moms everywhere for telling their kids to “eat your vegetables.” Perhaps we can give a special “shout out” to those French moms who seem to teach their children to eat all kinds of healthy foods (see How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm). We can take a page from their meal plan to encourage our kids to eat their vegetables by:

  • Make mealtime a sacred time set apart from the busy-ness of life to engage with one another in the preparation and savoring of our foods. We can assure that the whole family slows down to savor the intimacy we share over asparagus and broccoli as well as chocolate cake and cookies.
  • Assure mealtime is an expression of love, a time in which we slow down to cherish one another and our relationships rather than a moment to we wolf down some unknown food substance as we rush from one activity to another. Teach the whole family to view mealtime as an important family event of sharing, laughter, and fun.
  • Allow our children to participate in the whole process of the mealtime project. This process begins with growing and picking the vegetables or helping pick them out at the local farmer’s market or grocery store. The process continues through the preparation and does not end until we have enjoyed the food together and cleaned up as a team. Letting children participate in such a sacred event (see first bullet) will increase their sense of significance, competence, and contribution as well.


When I was growing up I never thought I’d say this; but, I guess I’ll join in with mothers around the world in saying, “Eat your vegetables.” It the least I can do to help my children and my spouse feel happier and physically healthier throughout their life!

A Family Fun Night with Amazing Health Benefits

Did you know…

  • Homemade Peppermint Hot ChocolateDrinkable chocolate was used in France during the 17th century to fight against fits of anger? Today, research has confirmed that chocolate reduces the level of stress hormones in people highly stressed, which may reduce anger in such situations.
  • Antioxidants in hot cocoa are almost twice as strong as red wine, two to three times stronger than green tea, and four to five times stronger than black tea. And, more antioxidants get released when we drink “hot” cocoa as opposed to cold things. Antioxidants fight free radicals in the body, which translates to reducing the chance of cancer and heart disease among other things.
  • Hot cocoa contains flavonoids which can help improve blood flow, help lower blood pressure, and improve overall heart health.
  • Drinking hot cocoa can also help you think better by increasing blood flow and oxygen to the brain. (Read more about these four benefits on the Mature Mother Network)
  • Hot cocoa contains phenethylamine. This chemical will stimulate the nervous system and trigger the release of endorphins and increases the positive effect of the neurotransmitter dopamine (which is part of our reward system). Dopamine and endorphins help us feel good, relieved, and satisfied.
  • Hot cocoa can also increase brain levels of serotonin, boosting a sense of well-being. (Read Cocoa, The Health Miracle for more details of these benefits)


As you can see, hot cocoa carries more than just a punch of good taste. It brings added health benefits, too. And, hot cocoa can make for a great family fun night. Who doesn’t like to gather with loved ones and sip some hot chocolate while sitting in a comfy room sharing conversation and games? Of course, to really make a great Family Fun Night, don’t have any old hot cocoa. Make it a home-made cocoa or gourmet cocoa. Check out Something Swanky or Our Best Bites for a few ideas. Add to the fun with a “hot cocoa bar” filled with candy canes, whip cream, marshmallows, and more. What are you waiting for! Get out there and enjoy the health benefits of a Family Fun Night with hot cocoa!

Is Your Family Like a Scene from RV? Try Rituals

This scene from RV vividly describes how the culture and our busy lives can pull our family apart. We watch as the RV rolls down the highway for a great family vacation; which, by the way, the father, Bob Munro, initiated in an effort to meet his own employment needs. His wife rides in the passenger seat, listening to her IPod and singing along to her music. His son sits behind the passenger seat with headphones on, flexing his biceps, and “singing” along with his favorite rap. Directly across from him and behind the driver’s seat, sits his daughter. She also has her headphones securely in place and is screaming along with her favorite tune. A family of four starting their vacation, confined in an RV for an extended drive…yet living in four different worlds. They have no interaction, no talking, no connection. Everyone is together in one place, yet all alone. You know what the Munro family needs? They need a good set of family rituals, like eating together, spending time together at the end of the day, a weekly family game night, or a date night.
Rituals are like the glue that can hold families together. Practicing rituals on a regular basis builds and strengthens family relationships. Rituals provide a regular opportunity for family members to connect with one another. The whole family is encouraged to cooperate and think about the other person. Everyone participates, creating an opportunity to enjoy time together, have fun, and experience a meaningful time of connection. 
Rituals also help to build family identity. If you have a family ritual that involves a family game night, your family takes on the identity of “game-lovers,” “fun-lovers,” or “competitors.” If your family enjoys volunteering as a family ritual, you take on the identity of “helpers,” “volunteers,” or “caregivers.” Families that practice a ritual of participating in Sunday Worship become known as “church-goers” or “Christians.” Those that connect over sporting activities become the “athletes;” those who camp become known as the “campers.” The list goes on. The rituals we engage in help us build a family identity in which the whole family can take pride.
Rituals help build predictability into the family as well. A ritual occurs on a regular basis. Knowing that our family “has pizza every Friday night” builds predictability and anticipation into the weekly schedule. That predictability brings security to our children. They like to know that “our family always does that.” And, secure children are better behaved children. The anticipation of a regularly occurring ritual encourages good behavior. In addition, family members can arrange their schedule around regularly scheduled rituals, ensuring time for connection building and family fun.
Finally, rituals provide an opportunity to instill family values into the family. We celebrate shared meaning in our rituals. Celebrating birthdays communicates the value we place on individual family members. Celebrating Christmas and Easter becomes an opportunity to communicate the joys of giving, the love of God, and the humble sacrifice of Christ. The ritual of a game night communicates the importance of fun. Families that connect over rituals of sports teach sportsmanship, discipline, and graciousness in winning and losing. Rituals instill family values.
Yes, the Munro family really needed practice a few family rituals before getting into that RV. Maybe your family does too. If so, start today with the simple ritual of giving a hug and kiss good-bye when you leave the house and another hug and kiss when you return. It may sound silly, but practicing the rituals of connection pays will bring added joy to your life!

Book Review: Family by God’s Design

Family by God’s Design was written by John Salmon, PHD, and published in 2011. Since its publication I have had the privilege and joy of talking about its content with various Christian camps and churches. If you have not had the opportunity to review Family by God’s Design yourself, here is a brief summary.
God designed the family to reflect His relationship to His people—a relationship of honor, grace, and celebration. Unfortunately, society pulls families away from this ideal and downstream from the beauty of God’s design. As a result, families find themselves adrift in a culture that emphasizes individualism, entitlement, and performance. Even families within the church find themselves caught in this cultural drift. As a result, family members become disconnected and isolated from one another. They find themselves living in the same house while behaving like contestants on an episode of Survivor. This is not God’s design for the family. It does not reflect His love for His Church.
Families that become celebrating communities of honor and grace reflect God’s family design. Becoming a celebrating community of honor and grace demands thoughtful action and intentional effort. Family by God’s Design guides families through the Biblical basis of the intentional family and explores practical ways for families to become celebrating communities of honor and grace.
Family by God’s Design is divided into three sections. Section one focuses on honor in the family and offers practical advice on how to make deposits into the family bank of honor. Chapters focus on treating one another as precious, using speech that honors, keeping one another “in mind,” and accepting one another’s influence. The section on honor also explores practical ways to remain honorable in the midst of conflict and the importance of honor in discipline.
Section two focuses on grace. In this section, Family by God’s Design explores how families can become grace receivers and grace givers. Topics include practical ways of giving one another unconditional acceptance, remaining available, attentive and emotionally connected, “giving up” for one another, and forgiving one another. A final chapter explores how to discipline in grace.
Section three focuses on how to shape your family into a celebrating community. Chapters in this section develop a Biblical perspective on playfulness, celebration, and the importance of discipline for celebration in the Christian family. The reader will also discover practical suggestions for implementing rituals of celebration in this section. Family by God’s Design explores the celebration of marital intimacy as well.
Overall, Family by God’s Design invites families to become a celebrating community of honor and grace that will witness of God’s love for His people. It is an excellent resource for those entering into marriage or parenthood. In addition, it can be easily used as a guide in a Bible Study focusing on the Christian family. 
Here are a few comments from readers of Family by God’s Design:
“If you would like to establish a healthy and biblical family environment, read John Salmon’s book Family by God’s Design. He gives you practical, concrete ways to develop honor and grace while living everyday life. Implement these ideas and watch your family blossom!” -Tim, husband, father, & attorney
“Dr. Salmon has done a wonderful job of surveying much of the relevant material available in reference to marriage and family. Beginning with the introduction, there are numerous analogies and metaphors to help the reader grasp his ideas. Throughout Family by God’s Design, he introduces information from the best authors today to assist the reader in understanding how a healthy God-honoring family operates. You clearly see his belief in the importance of marriage and family as a part of God’s design.” -Rev. Dr. Terry L. Mann–Executive Director, TWOgether Pittsburgh
Family by God’s Design elevates the importance of family relationships by demonstrating ways for kindness and love to permeate day-to-day behaviors. The helpful hints presented are easy to implement and make good sense. This book reminds us why cherishing our families is such a blessing.” -Nancy, wife, mother, & child/adolescent mental health worker
If Family By God’s Design sounds like a book that could help your family, click here to purchase it through our website.