Give the Gift of Family Stories at Holiday Meals and Everyday

Peace at Home October 16, 2023 | Ruth Freeman

Family meals are associated with better school performance, fewer behavior problems and lower risk of substance use in our kids. For these reasons and more, we hope that parents will make family meals routine both during the week and on weekends. As the holidays approach we are thinking about those special family meals and keeping the atmosphere positive and joyful even as family dynamics unfold. 

What helps? One magic trick is the gift of family stories. 

Telling family stories is a gift that is worth preserving. When you take the time to tell children about family members including those alive today and long ago ancestors, you are actually imparting important assets. Here’s how family stories positive impact kids:

  • Build a strong sense of family identity – By sharing family stories we provide children with a narrative that extends beyond themselves. Both children and teens benefit by learning about their roots, the struggles, the successes, and the unique qualities that contributed to making them who they are. Especially those stories about overcoming challenges are associated with reduced anxiety. Family stories can serve as a foundation on which your children build their own stories. They also help them understand and appreciate their own way of being in the world.
  • Pass down values and life lessons – Family stories can be windows into the lessons learned by our ancestors. They can be a guide for navigating life’s complexities and a way for you to talk about how your family has influenced your values and behaviors. These can be stories of resilience, kindness, or persistence. Include stories of failures and difficulties to help children recognize difficulties and know they aren’t the end of the story.
  • Strengthen family bonds – Hearing stories about their parents’ childhood challenges or worries and about grandparents’ or other relatives’ adventures or struggles help children feel more connected to the family. These stories also put their own experiences into a context of connection and offer the idea of family being a safe place to land where you’ll be understood and accepted. 
  • Preserve cultural heritage – Culture is built on traditions, customs and rituals. Including these in family stories helps children not only make sense of everyday family activities but also helps them choose how they want to express their culture as they mature. Stories are powerful vessels of culture and remain in children’s minds and hearts as they go out into the world and create their own families. 
  • Boost emotional intelligence – Family stories provide a safe space for kids of all ages to explore a wide range of emotions from joy and triumph to fear and grief. By experiencing this range of emotions through the stories of their ancestors, children learn compassion and gain an acceptance of a wide range of feelings which will support them to navigate their own emotions as they go out into the world.

After the harrowing events of 9/11, researchers discovered that children who knew the stories of their ancestors were actually less anxious than those who knew nothing of family history. Even as life gets busy, take the time to share family stories. Pass along this profound and enduring gift that strengthens resilience, provides a sense of self, offers a moral compass and invites a powerful connection to their roots. When you tell family stories you are both honoring your own past and shaping your children’s future.

For more parenting support, join us for an Upcoming Live Workshop, browse our Libraries of Quick Video Solutions and check out our podcasts and other resources.  Questions? Email us at Solutions@Peaceathomeparenting.com or learn more about our Corporate, School and NonProfit programs.

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