Increase your Child’s Emotional Health and Happiness with Family Stories

My wife and I are avid readers of the New York Times.  If you don’t read the New York Times, well, you probably actually do read it indirectly, but you’re not aware of it.  After reading the New York Times for several years now, we have learned to appreciate that a lot of articles published in other newspapers, such as the Globe and Mail and National Post actually originated from the New York Times.

My wife recently forwarded me a New York Times’ article “The Stories That Bind Us“, which was originally published on March 15, 2013.

It’s an interesting article that describes a study done by psychologists Drs. Duke and Fivush where they asked questions to 4 dozen families in the summer of 2001 and taped several of their dinner conversations.  The 20 questions were based on a measure they developed called the “Do you know?” scale.

Examples of questions included:

Do you know where your grandparents grew up? Do you know where your mom and dad went to high school? Do you know where your parents met? Do you know an illness or something really terrible that happened in your family? Do you know the story of your birth?

The study found that 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.

They found that the “healthiest narratives” were the “oscillating family narrative”, in which the “up and downs” of Family Stories were told to the children, but in end they “stuck together as a family”.  The children with the most self-confidence have a strong “intergenerational self”, where they know that they belong to something bigger than themselves.

This article led to a healthy discussion between me and my wife about whether our sons know enough about our family history.  We concluded that we were doing an okay job, but probably could tell them more of our Family Stories.  After reading this article, we decided to make a conscious effort to tell them more stories (good and bad), as they are entering their formative years when these stories will hopefully stick with them.

Maybe after reading this post/article, think about telling a Family Story to your children.  What better day than Family Day to tell them a Family Story!

Happy Family Day to you and your family!


What did you do with your family on Family Day?  Do you tell your children your Family Stories?   How many “Do you know” questions?” do your children know about your family?



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