Everything is held together by stories

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Everything is held together by stories.

One of the simplest, most important things you can do for your children is develop a strong family narrative.

Psychologists discovered that telling your children about challenges your family has faced helps them develop resilience and handle stress better. Stories of your family overcoming hard times also help your kids believe that they can do the same.

It was 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. A set of 20 questions the researchers developed, called the “Do You Know?” scale, turned out to be the best single predictor of children’s emotional health and happiness.

Some of the questions included were:

🌏 Do you know where your grandparents grew up?

🎓 Do you know where your mother and father 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?

— and the children who knew a lot about their families tended to do better when they faced challenges.

Furthermore, psychologists have found that every family has a unifying narrative, and those narratives take one of three shapes:

⬆️ First, the ascending family narrative: �“Honey, when we came to this country, we had nothing. Our family worked. We opened a store. Your grandfather went to high school. Your father went to college. And now you. ...”

⬇️ Second is the descending narrative:�“Sweetheart, we used to have it all. Then we lost everything.”

🔄 And lastly, the healthiest sort, is called the oscillating family narrative: �“Let me tell you, we’ve had ups and downs in our family. We built a family business. Your grandfather was a pillar of the community. Your mother was on the board of the hospital. But we also had setbacks. You had an uncle who was once arrested. We had a house burn down. Your father lost a job. But no matter what happened, we always stuck together as a family.”

The telling of family tales can create a strong “intergenerational self”— which is when a person knows they belong to something bigger than themselves. And this, in turn, can give rise to the self-confidence that we all wish our children to grow into.

Post credit: Neurochild Community