The power of family stories

I’m resurrecting this post because the article cited is so affirming.  Affirmation is welcome even when recycled, right?

Storytelling hit the news recently, in the New York Times no less, with research regarding the importance of family stories on child development. Bruce Feiler authored the article about a study conducted by Marshall Duke at Emory University. The findings were powerful:

“The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative. [Kids] who know a lot about their families tend to do better when they face challenges.”

And it’s not just the anecdotes and happy stories that should be told. It was shown that stories of ups and downs, triumphs and failures, ghosts in and out of the closet, help children be more resilient. Belonging to an entity larger than yourself, and knowing that entity has made it through good times and bad, is of particular importance.

“The more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem, and the more successfully they believed their families functioned. The ‘Do You Know?’ scale turned out to be the best single predictor of children’s emotional health and happiness.”

My niece has taken to asking at the dinner table and at bedtime, “What’s a story from your childhood?” Having shared this fascinating news with my family, we now take the time, every time, to conjure a story.

Read the full New York Times article

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Categories: writing tips

8 Comments on “The power of family stories”

  1. May 3, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

    Very interesting! I know my childhood was filled with stories of my mother’s childhood, which gave me deep roots in my Ozark heritage. I’ll pass this info onto the new moms in my family!

    • May 5, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Galen. This has been a great discussion topic this week in the halls at work as we compare notes, especially with the new parents. We agree it makes a lot of sense.

  2. May 27, 2013 at 5:25 am #

    Great insights into the need to share core values and family stories. It gives us context.

    • May 27, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

      Yes, it makes good sense, and gives me a new appreciation for the family stories told at all our birthday and holiday get-togethers while I was growing up. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Cate Russell-Cole
    September 8, 2013 at 7:10 am #

    Reblogged this on Write Your Life Story and commented:
    Another awesome reason to write your memoir. Thanks to Chris from Flash Memoirs for this essential post.

  4. September 11, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

    Even better because kids love stories and want to hear them. Mom telling me stories over and over is a major reason I wrote my memoir.

    • September 15, 2013 at 10:31 am #

      For many of us, I’m sure! Thanks for taking the time to comment, Carol.
      I’ll also seize the moment to let you know how much I enjoy your blog: :)


  1. Top 5 posts of 2013 | FlashMemoirs - January 4, 2014

    […] This was my favorite news of the year and it traveled like wild fire through the storytelling circle on Twitter more than once. The power of family stories […]

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