Is Family Storytelling A Parenting Superpower? Science Says Yes!
Whether you loved hearing family stories as a child or couldn’t wait to escape them, there is a growing body of research that illustrates just how powerful exposure to family stories is for a child. You may or may not have enjoyed hearing all about Uncle Earl’s adventures as a shoemaker, but as it turns out, knowing about him likely helped you establish the foundation of your own identity. Every family story you heard as a child is the mortar holding the bricks together.
EMERGING RESEARCH ON FAMILY STORYTELLING
As parents we all want to do right by our kids. We think carefully about what they eat, what they wear, what kind of friends they have, what they’re doing online, where they’ll go to college – the list goes on. For many parents, a shortage of time and money are barriers to the kind of things that offer kids a clear head start in life. But what if one of the most powerful things you can do for your child turned out to be free, portable, and fun?
For years, clinicians in the field of psychology and psychiatry had informally noted common factors they felt predicted a patient’s likelihood of responding to treatment. The researchers decided to look at why some kids had higher self-esteem, did better in school, navigated social dynamics more easily, and experienced lower rates of anxiety and depression. Out of those early studies came a striking conclusion: children who regularly hear family stories do better. A lot better. And not only as children, but as adolescents and adults, too.
THE “DO YOU KNOW” TEST
How did the researchers evaluate something as qualitative as knowledge of family stories? They developed a scale that measures how familiar individuals are with their family history and narrative. Developed by Marshall Duke and Robyn Fivush in their study at Emory University, the “Do You Know?” scale, also known as “The 20 Questions,” evaluates how well a child knows and understands their family’s history and culture. Questions on everything from where a family name comes from to what jobs Mom and Dad had as kids offer insight into how frequently a family talks about family stories.
Interestingly, it wasn’t only a specific knowledge of the facts in family stories that created the benefit to children. Telling family stories in a rich, detailed way requires a special kind of one-on-one interaction and communication. Children whose parents reminisced with them in specific detail were found to have a richer, more complex narrative – and a better understanding of the thoughts and feelings of those around them.
As children age, familiarity with family stories continues to offer distinct advantages. Adolescents and pre-teens who had regular conversations about family stories were found to have higher self-esteem, a stronger sense of identity, and better coping skills.
HOW DOES BEFORE YOU MAKE FAMILY STORYTELLING MODERN?
We all know that time spent with our children is the best medicine, but for modern families time is an incredibly limited resource. As we thought about how to make family storytelling more accessible to families, we knew we needed to create a way to fluidly incorporate both capturing and telling stories into the lives of parents.
Photos have become the default way to tell stories, thanks to social media, but who hasn’t had the experience of trying (and failing) to locate a photo between iCloud, Dropbox, Google – or even social feeds? Not being able to find a photo is frustrating enough, but photos fail to capture the rich details we know are so important. In Before You, we’ve created a place where users can quickly add photos, video, audio, and text, creating a fully detailed portrait of a family memory.
A NEW FAMILY TRADITION – FAMILY STORIES!
Modern family storytelling with Before You is simple, quick, convenient, and secure. We made it easy, so that you can make it a part of your everyday life. What stories will you tell about your family? Download Before You to get started today!