Friday, June 20, 2014

Stories strengthen family relationships

Want to strengthen your family relationships? Share your stories.

Now that both my parents are dead, I so wish I would have asked them even more questions about their life stories. I heard some of them, but I know there's so much more I don't know. Turns out, knowing family stories is an important component in strengthening families and building resilience in younger generations. A study done by an Emory University psychologist, Marshall Duke, and a colleague, Robyn Fivush, showed that children who knew a lot about their families' histories had a stronger sense of control over their lives and higher self-esteem. Such families seemed to function better. And children from those families "know they belong to something bigger than themselves."

There are many ways to share your stories with children and grandchildren. It can be done at family gatherings, when on vacation or just in the course of daily life. Remember to share both the funny stories and also those about adversity and how you or other family members coped. There are many life lessons to be learned that way. Or you may wish to put your stories into book form. When I first became a grandmother, someone gave me a "Grandma's Story" book. The idea was that I should answer the questions on the pages of this album and include photos so that once I'd finished the book, I could give it to my grandchild who would then have a story of my life. I was too busy in those years and never quite got the book done. Now, nine grandchildren later, I don't plan to write in nine different books. My hope is to create one book with stories and pictures that I can have printed for each grandchild.

Stories. They're so important to us all—and in ways we maybe didn't quite imagine. Start sharing yours today. And ask others around you to share theirs.

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