If you’re writing a memoir or family history, holiday family gatherings are good times to learn more about your family history.
As I wrote the draft of my memoir, I turned to my knowledge of family history I gained from stories shared at family dinners, Christmas parties, and sitting around the campfire on camping trips.
Research indicates that telling family stories and creating traditions can make families stronger and give children a sense of stability.
Bruce Feiler, author of The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More, wrote about Emory University professor and psychologist Marshall Duke’s research into what makes strong families, and observations by Duke’s wife Sara, a psychologist, who found that children face challenges better when they have deep knowledge about their families.
A “Do You Know Scale” was developed by researchers to test family knowledge and predict children’s emotional health and happiness. The questions are also valuable research starters for anyone who also wants to write about their family. The “Do You Know” questions provide valuable information on their own, but also spark further discussion.
Here are several of the questions from the scale:
- Do you know how your parents met? Y N
- Do you know where some of your grandparents grew up? Y N
- Do you know the source of your name? Y N
- Do you know which person in your family you look most like? Y N
For more insight, read Feiler’s article, The stories that bind us in the New York Times. Then read Marshall Duke’s Huffington Post article, The Stories That Bind Us: What Are the Twenty Questions?, for the complete list and additional information about the study.
On a related note, in case you missed it, read Carol’s post, Lessons in character development: parental influences, for her take on how understanding family dynamics can help you create characters.