Understanding the impact of family routines and rituals in relative in kinship families
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Fiese and colleagues (2002) describe routines and rituals as naturally occurring behaviors creating a sense of predictability and stability via the underpinnings of communication, commitment, and continuity in a family unit. Although traditionally studied in intact families, these simple but profound parenting strategies are malleable and impact all family types. In this study, 65 relative and kinship legal guardians and 33 teachers were surveyed, extending the scope of routine and ritual research to "grandfamilies." Measures of routines and rituals, family cohesion and adaptability, youth behaviors at home and school, as well as open-ended descriptions of unique routines and rituals were employed. Findings reveal grandfamilies incorporate unique routines and rituals while navigating obstacles such as incarceration, scattered family members, and biological parent instability. On formal measures, routines and rituals were associated with more prosocial behaviors and less problem behaviors at home and school, as well as significantly correlated with cohesion and adaptability. Rituals were correlated with less teacher-rated emotional symptoms. Additionally, regarding cohesion and adaptability in grandfamilies, caregivers reported having strict, yet enmeshed family types. Lastly, results unexpectedly suggest that relationships of routines and rituals to youth and family outcomes become less strong when demographics and conditions of placement are factored. Small sample size prohibited evaluation of mediation effects. Further research to operationalize unique routines and rituals for examination with a broader canvas of community outcomes and including informal grandfamilies is recommended.