This was an interesting article about how people are more resilient when they feel like they are part of a larger extended family, know some stories and the origins of their ancestors, etc.
The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative.
“The ones who know a lot about their families tend to do better when they face challenges,” she said.
Her husband was intrigued, and along with a colleague, Robyn Fivush, set out to test her hypothesis. They developed a measure called the “Do You Know?” scale that asked children to answer 20 questions.
Examples included: Do you know where your grandparents grew up? Do you know where your mom and dad went to high school? Do you know where your parents met? Do you know an illness or something really terrible that happened in your family? Do you know the story of your birth?
Dr. Duke and Dr. Fivush asked those questions of four dozen families in the summer of 2001, and taped several of their dinner table conversations. They then compared the children’s results to a battery of psychological tests the children had taken, and reached an overwhelming conclusion. The more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believed their families functioned. The “Do You Know?” scale turned out to be the best single predictor of children’s emotional health and happiness.
“We were blown away,” Dr. Duke said.
Why does knowing where your grandmother went to school help a child overcome something as minor as a skinned knee or as major as a terrorist attack?
“The answers have to do with a child’s sense of being part of a larger family,” Dr. Duke said.
Dr. Duke said that children who have the most self-confidence have what he and Dr. Fivush call a strong “intergenerational self.” They know they belong to something bigger than themselves.
I come from a big family and for some reason I learned to see most of them as extensions of myself, so I looked out for them. And they looked out for me. I felt like we were like twigs -- weak apart, strong together. I don't know why I thought that and other children sociopaths see their family as threats. Maybe it's because we were all so smart we spoke a sort of shorthand/twinspeak with each other. Maybe it was because we had a common enemy in our narcissist father. For whatever reason, I always felt like I was part of something bigger, almost like I had grown up in a mafia family. And it's true, I think it did make me a better person