Girls traditionally wear a white dress for the Mass, and my daughter wore MY dress that I wore some 30-some years ago. (It fit her perfectly - genetics for the win!) Better yet, the dress was hand-made just for me by my Great Aunt Helen. I love that my daughter was able to wear it and incorporate a little family history into her special day.
Nearly every world religion and culture has ceremonies, rituals, gatherings, etc. for children and/or teens to mark special times in their lives in which they pass from one stage of life or status within the community to another. And going through these rites of passage can connect our kids to their ancestors, who went through the same ceremonies and traditions so many years ago.
Perhaps your family is secular, and doesn't practice the religion your ancestors once did. No worries! There are lots of modern-day rites of passage that your kids will go through that can also connect them to the experiences of their ancestors. Things like getting a first job, getting a driver's license, advancing to a higher sports team or scouting group, and school graduations are rites of passage that can be just as important in life as religious ones. Look for parallels in your ancestors' lives that you can share with your child when their big day happens. If photos exist of elder family members going through these landmarks of life, pull them out and share them with your child.
Whatever coming-of-age traditions your family celebrates, make an effort to impart to your children and grandchildren how that tradition connects them to their loved ones, both living and deceased. If you are able to incorporate some sort of family heirloom into their experience, even better.
And don't forget to document the event with photos, scrapbooks, and guest signature books. Encourage elder family members to share their memories of their experiences (and maybe even write them down!) Help your child add these special events to your family history software or FamilySearch / Ancestry online tree. Doing so can help kids and teens make connections with the past and with their family history.
©2019 Emily Kowalski Schroeder