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New families and traditions

Are you in a new relationship or newly married? Transition in the formation of a new family creates a unique challenge. New families will be facing big questions about how to merge traditions from each of their families as well as create new ones of their own. Here are two things to consider.


When creating new traditions, couples should be clear with each other about their expectations and what they value. Talking with all family members is important so that everyone knows that traditions with both sides of the family are a priority.

It’s also important to communicate clearly with your children.  Once all the adults come to an understanding, bring the kids into the conversation. Adjust  the conversation to their stage of development, letting them know:

  • Details such as when and where the tradition takes place and who will be participating.
  • Some traditions may feel familiar while others may feel brand new.

After you have provided information, don’t forget to ask your children whether they have questions or want to talk further about your plans.

If you are a single parent and plan to create your own traditions, use this time to talk to your children about where your family traditions came from. Your children may offer some ideas of their own as to which traditions should be continued and which could be established moving forward.


Coparents should expect some conflict as you negotiate new family traditions. It’s likely that neither of you will be able to celebrate them exactly as you imagined. Above all, consider your children’s needs in these conversations. The chances are better that you will achieve many of your hopes if you and your co-parent strive for flexibility and understanding. Taking this approach allows for more opportunities to create new family traditions.

Eventually, you may decide that it is important for your newly formed family to have your own traditions. Open communication with your extended families is important if you are changing your involvement in long-established traditions. 

Practicing healthy communication and flexibility is the first step to putting your family on the path to new anticipated traditions. 

You may also be interested in Suggestions for stepfamilies.

Author: Minnell Tralle, former Extension educator

Reviewer: Ellie M. McCann, Extension educator

Reviewed in 2023

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