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Why should we care about our heritage… cont’d

Last month I shared this question I was pondering over from a discussion with hubs: Why should we care about knowing our heritage?

I came across this New York Times article about why it’s important to ensure children know about the family stories and history. Here’s an excerpt…

The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: Develop a strong family narrative.

I first heard this idea from Marshall Duke, a colourful psychologist at Emory University. In the mid-1990s, Doctor Duke was asked to help explore myth and ritual in American families.

Doctor Duke’s wife, Sara, a psychologist who works with children with learning disabilities, noticed something about her students. “The ones who know a lot about their families tend to do better when they face challenges” she said.

Her husband was intrigued, and along with a colleague, Robyn Fivush, set out to test her hypothesis. They developed a measure called the “Do You Know?” scale that asked children to answer 20 questions. Examples 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?

Doctor Duke and Doctor Fivush asked those questions of four dozen families in the summer of 2001, and taped several of their dinner table conversations. They then compared the children’s results to a battery of psychological tests the children had taken, and reached an overwhelming conclusion. 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.

Doctor Duke said that children who have the most self-confidence have what he and Doctor Fivush call a strong “intergenerational self.” They know they belong to something bigger than themselves. >> read rest of article

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Read more on our little family project to compile our Stories of Long Ago

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