Summer assignment: Talk about family

It’s summertime! And if you’re experiencing summer anything like we are, you think it’s going by way too quickly. Next thing you know, it’ll be time to pack a lunch and head back to school – or at least make sure your children are heading back to somebody’s classroom. But before summer is a wrap, spend some extra quality time with the young people in your life, and you’ll have an incredibly positive influence.

So how are you taking advantage of the remaining weeks of the summer break, when your children are spending more time in your classroom?

Here’s an idea: share some family stories.

summertime fun

According to researchers, children have the most self-confidence when they have a strong “intergenerational self,” meaning they believe they belong to something bigger than themselves. Sharing the family stories of both struggle and triumph with your children enables them to see the continuity of your family’s journey, as well as understand their role in that journey.

While you instill a sense of pride in the people who got your family to where you all are today, your children can also assume a responsibility to contribute to that family narrative. What will they do in the future to maintain your family’s rich legacy? What stories will they share in the future? What stories will be told about them?

 

I can hear some of you saying something like, “our family doesn’t have any stories to share.” If that’s you, cut it out. Every family has stories to share – even if it’s just to explain how the stories were lost. Was someone adopted? Did someone die? Did someone move? Were records lost? Instead of allowing the knowledge gaps to speak for themselves, own those stories that created the gaps. There’s no shame in lost information – but plenty of regret in silence.

As Bruce Feiler explained, “if you want a happier family, create, refine and retell the story of your family’s positive moments and your ability to bounce back from the difficult ones. That act alone may increase the odds that your family will thrive for many generations to come.”

So get talking before school starts. And enjoy what remains of the summer!

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