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.