Family Stories and Emotional Health | Choose Joy

Today’s Pioneer Day, at least to those in Utah who celebrate the settling of the Salt Lake Valley by Mormon pioneers in 1847. My great-great-great grandfather, John Brown, was the first Mormon—along with Orson Pratt—to see the valley (and how bleak and wild did that look?). I have dozens of pioneer family stories from which to draw. There’s something deeply moving about being from a line of people who have overcome so much hardship. It makes my own problems seem so manageable in comparison.

Family stories—whether they stretch back to the pioneers, the pilgrims, or just to an earlier generation—are necessary to emotional health. Believe it or not, research shows that children who grow up hearing family stories are emotionally and mentally healthier. According to Dr. Duke,

“The [children] who knew more about their families proved to be more resilient, meaning they could moderate the effects of stress.”

These people enjoy:

  • mental resilience
  • emotional health
  • strong family ties
  • feelings of self-worth
  • self-discipline
  • ability to face challenges
  • healthy coping mechanisms

Why are family history and stories so important? Because in order for children to know them, parents must tell them, and this family time is critical to healthy development. Plus, the children feel connected to generations of others.

My mother is enmeshed in the glory that is genealogy and family history stories. In fact, I’m editing my father’s personal history right now. With children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren (the one so far), the parents are starting to feel the urge to pass on stories to the next generations. And my dad’s history has tons of great stories, making me feel closer to him than I have been before and understand him in new ways.

I think of how hard we have to dig for family stories that go back more than a few generations—of how precious a few old diaries are—and it makes me appreciate the technology we have now that makes passing on family stories so easy. Creating family history stories now and telling the ones we know from the past can bring a peculiar joy to our lives. Family stories can remind us that we are part of something bigger, that we are not alone, that struggle has always existed as well as the ability to overcome. Family stories remind us that we are one, that we are happier together.

Tell family stories.

Choose Joy.

—A

See more about family stories:

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