Family History

Do You Know? Asking Questions About Family History Leads To Better Functioning Families

Over a decade ago, scientists at Emory University’s Center for Myth and Ritual in American Life studied the effect of family conversations and stories on children. By creating a list of “yes” or “no” questions, they determined how much the children in the study knew about their family history. They also conducted psychological testing, the results of which overwhelmingly showed that scoring higher on the “Do You Know?” questions was associated with higher levels of self-esteem, lower levels of anxiety, fewer behavioral problems and better functioning families.

Research shows that shared family stories influence a child’s self-esteem. Photo by pixabay.com

Research shows that shared family stories influence a child’s self-esteem.
Photo by pixabay.com

The actual questions do not matter as long as they are about things that must be learned through someone else and not experienced directly. Marshall Duke and Robyn Fivush, the leaders of the study, say, “Each family will have different stories and different key moments and memories that are shared. It is not the content of what is known that is the critical factor, but the process by which these things came to be known. In order to hear family stories, people need to sit down with one another. The stories need to be told over and over and the times of sitting together need to be multiple and occur over many years. The most convenient times traditionally have been family dinners, family trips in the car, vacations, birthday gatherings, etc.”

The researchers determined that the family narrative influences “the way a child looks at himself in the context of their larger family.”

Inspired leaders have long taught the blessings of family time and family history. In his April 2018 General Conference talk “Family History and Temple Work: Sealing and Healing,” Elder Dale G. Renlund spoke of family history. Along with increased testimony of the Savior and divine protection from the adversary, he described these promised blessings for families:

  • More closeness and joy and a heart turned toward your family
  • Increased love and gratitude for your ancestors
  • Healing

And for individuals, he mentioned specific gifts:

Traditionally, stories are shared at family dinners, birthday gatherings, holidays, and vacations. Photo by pixabay.com

Traditionally, stories are shared at family dinners, birthday gatherings, holidays, and vacations.
Photo by pixabay.com

  • Personal power
  • Inspired help
  • Joy, and to be blessed in every aspect of your life

Certainly, all these blessings contribute to the well-being and function of families and lead to children having a healthy sense of self.

Read more: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/marshall-p-duke/the-stories-that-bind-us-_b_2918975.html

Twenty “Do You Know?” Questions for Families

Do you know how your parents met?
Do you know where your mother grew up?
Do you know where your father grew up?
Do you know where some of your grandparents grew up?
Do you know where some of your grandparents met?
Do you know where your parents were married?
Do you know what went on when you were being born?
Do you know the source of your name?
Do you know some things about what happened when your brothers or sisters were being born?
Do you know which person in your family you look most like?
Do you know which person in the family you act most like?
Do you know some of the illnesses and injuries that your parents experienced when they were younger?
Do you know some of the lessons that your parents learned from good or bad experiences?
Do you know some things that happened to your mom or dad when they were in school?
Do you know the national background of your family (such as English, German, Russian, etc)?
Do you know some of the jobs that your parents had when they were young?
Do you know some awards that your parents received when they were young?
Do you know the names of the schools that your mom went to?
Do you know the names of the schools that your dad went to?
Do you know about a relative whose face “froze” in a grumpy position because he or she did not smile enough?*

Score: Total number answered YES

*Note about this question: Fifteen percent of the sample answered yes. The researchers say this is because the stories that families tell are not always true but are often told to teach a principle. Plus, there are often disagreements among family members about what really happened, and these disagreements then become part of the family narrative.

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