Yule log, Stockings, Santa Claus: What Role do Holiday Traditions Play?

With the Christmas season upon us, we find ourselves spending more time with family and reminiscing about holiday traditions we started as children. Today there is sufficient evidence to show these traditions play a positive role in families and will have a lasting influence.

Whether the traditions are for the holidays or carried out all year long, traditions provide security, strengthen family relationships, and teach children family values.

In the late 90s when researchers first looked at the importance of traditions, they found that families believed traditions improved the strength of their family. Families recognize the importance of spending quality time with the people they love and how this time fosters family stability.

When families have traditions, they create an environment which enables all family members to feel secure. Traditions give children something to look forward to. It is important for parents to begin traditions that will continue through their child’s early years. Parents provide family unity when they understand and emphasize the importance of family traditions.

When families join together to celebrate milestones, holidays and allow for traditions not only are memories being created, but the emotional health of the family is being improved. When families continue traditions, children have been found to have better emotional health. In a New York Times article, Dr. Steven J. Wolin, a psychiatrist at George Washington University, found that individuals who grew up in a family with traditions, were “more likely to be resilient as an adult.”

Family traditions are more than just joining together once a year at the holidays. They can be carried out all year long, and help families to prosper.

If your family does not have traditions, I encourage you to look for opportunities that can be turned into traditions. It could be having dinner as a family, reading to your child before bed, or visiting your favorite store on a special day every year as my family does. Whatever traditions you choose, know that you are giving your family the most precious gift, your time.

On behalf of everyone here at GCO, I want to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas.

The Economy: What’s Love Got to Do With It? Turns Out, a Whole Lot!

Earlier this month, GCO hosted a lunch and learn with Dr. Brad Wilcox, one of the nation’s leading sociologists. Dr. Wilcox has devoted his work to understanding family formation and the effect it has on our social structure and economy. His new report, “Strong families, prosperous states: Do healthy families affect the wealth of states?” takes a deep dive into the shifts in marriage and family structures – highlighting the factors which influence the national and states’ economic performance.

Georgia is in the bottom ten states for children living with married parents and at the bottom for college educated individuals. These statistics have a defining negative effect on the state’s economy and correlate with a higher number of Georgians on welfare programs and in the state’s penitentiary system.

At GCO, we understand that strong and healthy marriages have been proven to be better for all family members and lead to increased economic stability. That is why we are working to strengthen families and marriages, through relationship training so that individuals have skills they need to have healthy relationships and a public campaign to increase the value our culture places on marriage.

As Randy Hicks, President of GCO, states “When we’re successful, fewer Georgians will be living in a condition of dependence, a higher percentage will be enjoying earned success and the fruits of their labor, more children will be ready for college and a career, and more families will have the economic and relational resources to thrive.”

For more information about our Family and Community Initiative, visit: https://foropportunity.org/initiatives/family-community/

A State Founded on Opportunity

I hope you will take a few minutes to watch the video below and learn more about Georgia’s founding and how it relates to our work at Georgia Center for Opportunity.

Watch the Video

General James Edward Oglethorpe and the original Colonial Trustees founded the colony of Georgia with a commitment to opportunity and human dignity and even adopted the motto “Non sibi sed aliis” – “Not for self, but for others.” The history of Georgia, this land we call home, is rooted in that commitment. It arose out of a vision that was noble, inspired and inspiring.

At Georgia Center for Opportunity, our work is grounded in a similar vision – in our commitment to human dignity and opportunity, to the well-being of our neighbor. And while we want all Georgians to do well, we have focused much of our efforts on what Oglethorpe called “the distressed” – those Georgians whose prospects for social and economic well-being are sparse.

We’re committed to breaking through social and economic barriers so that Georgia children and families have a real chance to prosper. We want to see people moved from dependency to self-sufficiency, which we believe to be the key to living a life that can be rightly described as “flourishing.”

That’s why we work on the issues of education, employment, and family stability. We’ve found, and research shows, that when people are successful in these three areas, they are much more likely to avoid poverty, lead fulfilling lives and realize their full potential.

If you share our commitment to human dignity and opportunity, please consider investing in our mission today.