Have you ever wondered what parts of your life story and family history you should or shouldn’t share with your children and grandchildren? Many of us believe we should focus only on the positive and stay away from anything that might dampen the mood or potentially reflect poorly on us.
Recent studies, however, suggest otherwise – that sharing stories of hardship is actually beneficial for our children and grandchildren to hear.
In an article by Sue Shellenbarger titled ‘The Power of Myth: The Benefits of Sharing Family Stories of Hard Times’ (Wall Street Journal), Shellenbarger discusses current research on the subject and offers valuable food for thought to parents and grandparents wondering just how much they should share with their own children.
The article on sharing your story notes that…
‘Kids who knew their family history had higher self-esteem and fewer emotional problems, such as depression. The children seem to gain a sense of self in relation to other family members and to the past, building confidence. “Families who tell family stories have kids who are doing better,” says Robyn Fivush, an Emory psychology professor.’
‘Stories of relatives’ suffering, leading eventually to growth or success, may be helpful, according to a study of 74 middle-aged people by Dan P. McAdams, a psychology professor at Northwestern University. He found that adults who were the most nurturing and supportive of younger generations, based on tests completed by each subject, were five times more likely to tell stories of suffering leading to expansion or growth, compared with adults who were less nurturing….’
Your life experiences have made you who you are today. Sharing your story, the good and the not so good, along with the valuable lessons learned is a gift you can give your grandchildren. With this new research in mind, what stories will you now share? w
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