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    « Great Book Covers and How They Are Created | Main | Finishing Strong: Take Your Self-Published Book from Good to Great »
    Thursday
    Dec122013

    The Value of Sharing Family History with Children

    When your family gathers this holiday season it’s only a matter of time before one of the children says, “Tell me a story.”

    Courtesy of umjanedoan under Creative Commons

    There is some strong evidence that the child will be fortunate if the story you choose to tell is one drawn from your family’s history.

    “The single most important thing you can do for your family,” said Bruce Filer in a recent New York Times article The Stories That Bind Us, “may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative.”

    In The Atlantic this month, Elaine Reese, Professor of Psychology at the University of Otago in New Zealand explores why that is true in an article titled, What Kids Learn From Hearing Family Stories.

    “…research on family storytelling shows that when parents share more family stories with their children—especially when they tell those stories in a detailed and responsive way—their children benefit in a host of ways,” said Reese. Among the benefits she reported for children who are told family stories were:

    • When parents learn to reminisce about everyday events with their preschool children in more detailed ways, their children tell richer, more complete narratives to other adults one to two years later compared to children whose parents didn’t learn the new reminiscing techniques.
    • Children …demonstrate better understanding of other people’s thoughts and emotions.
    • In the preteen years, children whose families collaboratively discuss everyday events and family history more often have higher self-esteem and stronger self-concepts.
    • Adolescents with a stronger knowledge of family history have more robust identities, better coping skills, and lower rates of depression and anxiety. Family storytelling can help a child grow into a teen who feels connected to the important people in her life.
    • Adolescents with a stronger knowledge of family history have more robust identities, better coping skills, and lower rates of depression and anxiety. Family storytelling can help a child grow into a teen who feels connected to the important people in her life.

    So, if you don’t already, think about ways to incorporate time to share family stories during your family’s holiday celebrations. (Our post Research Your Book at Your Family Reunion will give you some ideas of how to do it.)

    Bruce Filer reminds us that, “If you want a happier family, create, refine and retell the story of your family’s positive moments and your ability to bounce back from the difficult ones. That act alone may increase the odds that your family will thrive for many generations to come.”

    Leave a comment about a way you family incorporates storytelling into its holiday celebrations.

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    Reader Comments (2)

    This is absolutely true! Youngsters are always looking for a form of identity and a belonging, a so called personal culture. Deny them of this and there is a very good chance they could fall in with the wrong crowd at a young age. Be open and honest with your children.

    Jamie
    Child benefits number

    Feb 4, 2014 at 2:12AM | Unregistered CommenterJamie

    Thanks for your comment, Jamie, and thanks for the link to the Child Benefit numbers.

    Feb 4, 2014 at 8:22AM | Registered CommenterNan Barnes

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