Research shows that sharing family stories boosts kids’ self-esteem and sense of control in their lives. Knowing the family narrative makes kids happier and more resilient because they know their place in the family.
As Bruce Feiler wrote in the New York Times: “The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative.”
Good news — we Pagans excel at constructing and sharing narratives, and we especially find opportunities to share family narratives around Samhain for those of us who take this season to reconnect with our ancestors. Here are five ideas:
- Create a family tree — you can get elaborate with ancestry websites or you can grab some paper and markers, draw a trunk and branches, and see how much the family can fill in just sitting around the kitchen table together.
- Write a family mission statement — just like a business or a temple might have a mission statement, answer the question, what is your family’s purpose? Or, do it in visual form and design a family crest to hang over the door or put on the altar for family rituals.
- Make up family traditions — everyone in the family gets new shoes at Mabon, or we always eat spaghetti on birthdays, or you probably already have something quirky like this in your family.
- Keep family heirlooms — These needn’t be of value to anybody else; they get their value from the meanings and stories you attach to them or when you place them on an ancestors altar. I asked about family heirlooms on Facebook and people shared about all kinds of things — a tea set, a sewing kit, quilts, a rocking chair.
- And finally, the most basic, tell family stories, stories, and more stories. Tell your kids the stories of their birth or adoption. Tell them about where you lived or went to school. Tell them about their aunts and uncles and grandparents. Tell about the successes and the challenges. Kids who know that their families have been through hard times and stayed strong, are kids who are set up to be resilient themselves.
What other ways do you keep the family narrative alive?
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.