At the Alchemia Group we are helping our clients think & act differently in regards to their wealth and its impact on thier family - because we know it is more than just numbers and plans, it's the Balance of Art & Science with Pragmatism and Vision.

What is the big deal with Rituals? (November 8, 2016)

I talk about rituals all the time. Most tend to be personal, such as writing a letter to a deceased relative or friend. Others are ones that are used to keep a family aware of itself and, in my opinion, even more important aware of each other. Often times these rituals are clothed in other titles. For example, the ritual of meeting (live or video via Skype) to discuss the family’s plan for philanthropic impact can lead to wonderful interactions and learnings for all the individual members. You can see a story about this from my book, The Middle Way, here.

Another important aspect of rituals is they be recognized as such. Each family should have a list of their rituals and the seasons they generally associate them with. This can be part of a larger document sometimes called The [NAME OF FAMILY] Agreement or a standalone for each family member to keep as part of their family documents or stored on their family web site.

Maintaining a family website can also be a ritual. One family I know has each household update their section of the site quarterly with events, photos and even simple iPhone videos/recordings. What a rich archive they are creating! In addition at each family meeting everyone reports on something they learned about another family member from the site. This is very easy technology to set up and operate.

Psychologists have been studying family rituals for years. One, Janine Roberts, has identified six ways in which families approach rituals.

  • Under-ritualized families rarely practice family routines, often ignoring important milestones such as anniversaries or birthdays.
  • Rigidly ritualized families prescribe strict rules for conduct and hold high expectations for attendance by all members.
  • Skewed ritualization is evident when the ritual practices are linked primarily to one member of the family or one aspect of a family’s life such as religion or ethnic heritage.
  • Families who practice hollow rituals are characterized by a lack of meaningful affect in their group activities, emphasizing the routine aspect of family rituals without the symbolic component.
  • Some families experience interrupted rituals due to sudden changes in the family such as illness or death.
  • Families who practice flexible rituals maintain the symbolically meaningful aspect of family rituals and are able to adapt the roles and routines across the lifecycle.

Think about the rituals your family practices, both intentionally and out of habit. What do they stand for? What do they mean to the family?

If you would like to discuss this in a deeper way please let me know.

Thanks for reading,



What is the big deal with Rituals? (November 8, 2016)