Culture & the Family

Stitt declares November ‘Family Month’ in Oklahoma

Ray Carter | October 31, 2023

Saying strong families are crucial to solving societal problems that cannot be unraveled by laws alone, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a proclamation on Tuesday declaring November to be “Family Month” in Oklahoma.

“Families are, really, the bedrock of our communities,” Stitt said. “They shape our values. They nurture our dreams. They stand by us through thick and thin. We all have great memories of our grandparents and our parents and all the life lessons they taught us. Families really are the foundation that we build our lives (upon), and it’s so important for young people to have role models and people that they can look up to, whether it’s your biological family or it’s someone that takes that role and helps shape your life.”

Research shows that less than 5 percent of households headed by a married father and mother live in poverty.

“Families, working together, are lifting themselves out of poverty,” Stitt said.

The governor also noted that research indicates married men between the ages of 18 and 55 report being happy at twice the rate of their unmarried peers.

While few argue the benefits of healthy marriages, data indicates there are fewer such unions today than in the recent past.

In 2005, the governor noted that 50 percent of men between ages 25 and 35 were married. Today, just 28 percent are married. Nationally, one in four children live without a father in the home.

As part of “Family Month,” the governor highlighted organizations that are working to assist parents in Oklahoma, particularly fathers, and other organizations dedicated to aiding families during challenging times, such as Birthright Living Legacy, which provides support and counseling to fathers and works to break negative parenting cycles.

“We say that you get your values from mom, which is your ethics, your morals and your ideas, but you get your value from dad, which is your worth, merit, and importance,” said Marquess Dennis, CEO of Birthright Living Legacy. “And if you leave home without either one of these crucial roles, that is when a child becomes at risk. Now, we support fathers by having them understand what their voice, their presence, and their touch does to develop a child’s brain.”

The governor also touted two state websites dedicated to assisting families.

The “be a neighbor” state website helps connect citizens with organizations working to address needs ranging from food and clothing to employment, mentorship, and spiritual guidance. The state “life” website helps connect Oklahoma parents and babies with resources before, during, and after birth.

Shelley Zumwalt, executive director of the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation, announced that six Oklahoma parks will offer free admission with no parking fees for the weekends that bookend Thanksgiving, giving families easier access to recreational time together. Those six state parks are Quartz Mountain, Lake Thunderbird, Robbers’ Cave, Lake Murray, Lake Wister, and Sequoyah.

James Leewright, CEO of the Oklahoma Restaurant Association, said participating restaurants will be offering special family or child discounts throughout November.

“Let’s not just make Oklahoma a great place to live, but let’s make it a warm haven where we can spend time dining in restaurants, spending nights with our families in hotels, or traveling our state, really strengthening our faith and our families,” Leewright said.

Wes Nofire, Native American liaison for the governor’s office, said it is appropriate that the state declare November to be Family Month at the same time the federal government declares November to be Native American Heritage Month.

Nofire, a Cherokee, noted family is crucial to handing down Native American culture, saying the two go “hand in hand.”

“The recognition of both Family and Native American Heritage Month offers an opportunity to all of us for us to look at where we are now and reflect on our story and richly cultured history,” Nofire said.

Stitt noted that laws cannot resolve many societal issues, but increased family formation can.

“It’s been said, ‘As the family goes, so goes society,’ and I truly believe that,” Stitt said. “I want Oklahoma to be the most pro-family state in the nation.”

Ray Carter Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter

Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter is the director of OCPA’s Center for Independent Journalism. He has two decades of experience in journalism and communications. He previously served as senior Capitol reporter for The Journal Record, media director for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and chief editorial writer at The Oklahoman. As a reporter for The Journal Record, Carter received 12 Carl Rogan Awards in four years—including awards for investigative reporting, general news reporting, feature writing, spot news reporting, business reporting, and sports reporting. While at The Oklahoman, he was the recipient of several awards, including first place in the editorial writing category of the Associated Press/Oklahoma News Executives Carl Rogan Memorial News Excellence Competition for an editorial on the history of racism in the Oklahoma legislature.

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