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Connected through family traditions


           Do you recall your family traditions from the years when you were a child? Times were different then, compared to today, and it seems that a lot of traditions have been lost along the way. But traditions have great value. People are connected in many ways, among which are the memories of things shared, hopefully good memories that warm your heart at any time, but particularly this time of year. If you haven’t thought of those things, maybe you will want to employ and share those memories, your roots, with the children in your family this year.

            It does seem like even holiday customs have become a hotbed of controversy in today’s society. But it doesn’t have to be so. Each of us has our set of beliefs, legacies from our ancestors. We, and our children, need to be connected to our roots to help identify who we are, where we came from and how we got here. What do you know about your family tree? Do you have a family historian who knows? Older family members who aren’t getting younger? And what child has not begged their parents and grandparents for stories from when they were children? What customs do you still observe? Have you shared with your children why you celebrate these things? Have you shared with your children who you are? Have you given them roots?

            There are other reasons for knowing your family’s history. The Cleveland Clinic explains why family history is important. Doctors and other health care providers need to know a family’s health history when they are working to diagnose conditions and recommend treatments.

            Ancestry is about where your family originated, providing valuable information about genetics. Ethnicity is a part of your story, too. It can raise your risk for certain conditions or illnesses. What is your family’s “normal” lifestyle? Why do you or others in your family behave in certain ways? How does your culture affect your physical health? We know that sickle cell anemia is more likely to occur in African Americans. Cystic fibrosis is more likely to be found in Caucasian Americans. Everyone doesn’t develop these conditions, but it provides valuable information to doctors who are looking for what is making a patient ill.

            According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “The more risks a child is exposed to, the more likely the child will abuse drugs.” Increasing the risks of drug abuse include: Little or no attachment to parents/caregivers, poor parenting, and substance abuse by a caregiver. You can protect your children from substance abuse by building a solid relationship between you and your child, by being involved in your child’s life, and by setting limits for your children and enforcing them consistently.

            The holidays are upon us. Family activities and celebrations are a time of sharing, caring and enjoying together. Even the days before the actual event are momentous: the fudge making, cookie baking, decorating the house, putting up the yard decorations are times that memories are made from. It’s a great time to reinforce your family’s positive culture, your way of a good life aimed in a good orderly direction. It is a time to build bridges of communication, a time of healing. Connectedness is important for everyone. Everyone needs to belong somewhere, to belong among people who encourage and nurture them, support them through the difficulties and to get back on track again.

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