Article

“Who Are You From?” The Importance of Family Stories

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Abstract

This article emphasizes the importance of family stories, or intergenerational narratives, and their health benefits across the lifespan. Knowing and sharing the story of who you are from complements the current focus on knowing and sharing one's geographic heritage, or where you are from. Knowing one's family stories creates meaning that goes beyond the individual to provide a sense of self, through time, and in relation to family. This expanded sense of self is referred to as our intergenerational self, which not only grounds an individual but also provides a larger context for understanding and dealing with life's experience(s) and challenges. This connection across generations appears to contribute to resilience at all stages of life. This shift in focus challenges family nurses to rethink and/or prioritize the use of family stories as a key health-promoting intervention for not only children but also their parents, and their parents' parents.

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... Benefits that connect family stories to emotional health and well-being include a sense of belonging in the family (Thompson, et al., 2009) and improved relationships (Moorman, 2012). Family stories are often utilized to pass on and preserve family belief systems, such as having a lifelong desire to learn, determining a commitment to education (Moorman, 2012), esteeming a work ethic (Taylor, Fisackerly, Mauren, & Taylor, 2013), building resilience to adversity (Saltzman, Pynoos, Lester, Layne & Beardslee, 2013;Driessnack, 2017), and valuing family bonds (Driessnack, 2017). Overall, family stories are seen as a catalyst for acting as a guide for change (Moorman, 2012), passing along intergenerational knowledge (Thompson, et al., 2009), and perpetuating an approach to life (Stone, 1988). ...
... Benefits that connect family stories to emotional health and well-being include a sense of belonging in the family (Thompson, et al., 2009) and improved relationships (Moorman, 2012). Family stories are often utilized to pass on and preserve family belief systems, such as having a lifelong desire to learn, determining a commitment to education (Moorman, 2012), esteeming a work ethic (Taylor, Fisackerly, Mauren, & Taylor, 2013), building resilience to adversity (Saltzman, Pynoos, Lester, Layne & Beardslee, 2013;Driessnack, 2017), and valuing family bonds (Driessnack, 2017). Overall, family stories are seen as a catalyst for acting as a guide for change (Moorman, 2012), passing along intergenerational knowledge (Thompson, et al., 2009), and perpetuating an approach to life (Stone, 1988). ...
... This process of self-understanding and its effect on the listener is formally referred to as neural coupling (Hasson, Ghazanfar, Galantucci, Garrod, & Keysers, 2012). Neural coupling is an important process in this context because when families share their narratives, the young children in those families make connections that require the use of their whole brain (Driessnack, 2017). Through these connections, young children learn about those who lived before them, their family values and expectations, and various life lessons. ...
... These stories can become the dominant narratives of our lives, shaping experience (White, 2007). It is argued that it is in families, that we come as children to know who we are in the worldthese experiences and stories unconsciously shaping, resourcing and constraining our behavioural responses and sense of self (Driessnack, 2017). Embedded in broader cultural narratives, stories of ourselves continue into adulthood, creating meaning that provides a sense of self through time and in relation to 'family' (Fivush, 2008). ...
... Different types of dialogue can differentially impact parental self-perception and motivation for change (Miller and Rollnick, 2012). For example, supporting parents to retell the story of their family's positive moments and their ability to come through difficult times (Driessnack, 2017) can be affirming of personal worth and galvanise hopeful family practices. Using conversations with parents to search for and affirm personal strengths and resilience, while acknowledging and appreciating difficult life experiences in the context of the wider social and economic circumstances of their lives, does not mean minimising presenting concerns or harm. ...
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This article describes the development of the ‘Family Life Stories’ practice workbook. The initiative emerged from a pilot social work strategy in Northern Ireland to utilise the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) research in frontline practice. ACEs research is currently having a significant impact on health and social care policy and practice across the UK. This article proposes that ACEs-awareness has potential benefits for child welfare social work, encouraging consideration of parent/caregivers’ and children's lives beyond presenting referral concerns, with many parents involved with child welfare services known to have experienced multiple adversities themselves. However, when applied in a reductionist manner, ACEs-informed practice risks amplifying parental powerlessness, exacerbating feelings of shame and blame, and rendering structural inequalities invisible to assessment. Based on systemic and narrative therapeutic principles, the Family Life Stories workbook and guidance seeks to address concerns by using participative mapping activities. These assist practitioners to have purposeful conversations with parents in ways that promote engagement. The workbook aims to provide opportunities to consider with parents how previous experiences have influenced their life stories, the impact on their current situation, and their wishes for their children – maximising the benefit for parental wellbeing and engagement, while maintaining a focus on child safety. Although lacking a rigorous independent evaluation, feedback from social workers involved in the pilot demonstrates provisional acceptability to practitioners and parents. This novel practice approach provides one example of how to use the ACEs research to promote sensitive relationship-based practice within a social justice framework.
... E-mail: cun.li@tue.nl. elderly [19], but also contributes to the development of a strong sense of intergenerational self, which is associated with children's increased resilience, better adjustment, and improved likelihood of overcoming challenges [26]. Preservation of the life stories is also significant because stories are an essential part of identity preservation. ...
... From a physiological perspective, reminiscing and sharing of life stories improve self-esteem, mood, well-being and enhances feelings of control and mastery over life as one ages. Research has also associated reminiscence with improving psychological wellbeing, reducing feelings of loneliness and depression, and helping older adults find meaning in their life [19]. Although stories are unscientific, and imprecise narratives of human thought, they help organize and integrate the neural networks of the brain [62]. ...
... Firstly, from the perspective of memento itself, mementos have strong associations with past ev, people or habits, and they help people reflect through vivid re-experience of their past [4]. In addition, recalling memories of mementos is a process of reminiscence, which improves psychological well-being and helps older adults find meaning in their life [5]. Secondly, from a social perspective, stories told by the elderly create meaning beyond the individual and provide a sense of self through historical time and in relation to family members, and thus may facilitate positive identity [3]. ...
... There is an increasing prevalence of personal digital content, Facebook, Twitter, etc., along with the growing tendency in human-computer interaction (HCI) toward designing technologies for homes, families, and experiences [5]. However, these platforms are more about the "now" moments and less about the past moments [7]. ...
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Family mementos document events shaping family life, telling a story within and between family members. The elderly collected some mementos for children, but never recorded stories related to those objects. In this paper, in order to understand the status quo of memento storytelling and sharing of elderly people, contextual inquiry was conducted, which further helped us to identify design opportunities and requirements. Resulting design was defined after brainstorm and user consultation, which was Slots- Memento, a system consisting a slot machine-like device used by the elderly and a flash drive used by the young. The Slots machine-like device utilizes with the metaphor of slots machine, which integrates functions of memento photo displaying, story recording, and preservation. In the flash disk, the young could copy memento photos to it. The system aims to facilitate memento story sharing and preservation within family members. Preliminary evaluation and user test were conducted in evaluation section, the results showed that Slots-Memento was understood and accepted by the elderly users. Photos of mementos were easy to recall memories. It enabled the elderly people to be aware of the stories of the family mementos, as well as aroused their desire to share them with family members. Related research methodology includes contextual inquiry, brainstorming, prototyping, scenario creation, and user test.
... Firstly, from the perspective of memento itself, mementos have strong associations with past ev, people or habits, and they help people reflect through vivid re-experience of their past [4]. In addition, recalling memories of mementos is a process of reminiscence, which improves psychological well-being and helps older adults find meaning in their life [5]. Secondly, from a social perspective, stories told by the elderly create meaning beyond the individual and provide a sense of self through historical time and in relation to family members, and thus may facilitate positive identity [3]. ...
... There is an increasing prevalence of personal digital content, Facebook, Twitter, etc., along with the growing tendency in human-computer interaction (HCI) toward designing technologies for homes, families, and experiences [5]. However, these platforms are more about the "now" moments and less about the past moments [7]. ...
... Referencing work from Dr. Marshall Duke, Feiler reports that children with a "strong intergenerational self" who "know they belong to something bigger than themselves" show higher levels of self-confidence. Driessnack (2017) talks about the importance of intergenerational narratives in providing an "expanded" sense of self that exists in context within a particular time and space, and in relation to family. She notes that the development of this intergenerational self may provide health benefits and contribute to resilience throughout all stages of life. ...
Article
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This paper explores the ways in which ancestor research has become a replacement for religious community and practice in a post-religious world. We explore the parallels of popular present-day family history pursuits with traditional religious practices, noting the similarities in how the practices are used to foster and strengthen feelings of identity, purpose, and belonging. We look at three particular customs that are common to those interested in ancestor research: the handing on of ‘sacred’ stories and objects with familial significance; acts of pilgrimage to ancestrally significant places; and engaging in ‘ritual’ gatherings, either with extended family or with others who share the interest of ancestor research.
... In this way, family narratives provide a structure for lived experience that is constantly changing and thus enable the creation of a coherent and continuous identity (Fivush & Merril, 2016). The intergenerational self that develops through listening and telling both anchors an individual in the world and provides a broader context for comprehending and coping with life's challenges, and is proven to be beneficial to all generations across the life course (Bohanek et al., 2006;Driessnack, 2017). ...
Article
This qualitative study explored the intergenerational family narratives around loss and bereavement as perceived by 12 Israeli adults, whose fathers died before they were born. Using the interpretative phenomenological analysis approach, the intergenerational narrative process was examined as it appeared in in-depth, semi-structured interviews. Three phases of this process were identified: (1) the first generation: establishing the rule of silence, (2) the second generation: obeying the rule of silence, and (3) the third generation: breaking the rule of silence. The discussion presents a nuanced examination of the functions of silence in family narration in the case of traumatic loss, its impact on children whose fathers died before they were born, and the notion of the timing and processing of intergenerational dialogues of loss between grandparents, parents, children, and grandchildren. Practical implications include the importance of recognizing the need for a careful balance between silence and speech, both for the family as a unit and for its grieving members. Also, family therapists should consider incorporating three-generation therapy sessions in cases of parent loss in general, and father loss before birth in particular.
... A comunicação no núcleo familiar é substancial por possibilitar a construção de vínculos, a transmissão de crenças e valores e ensinar a enfrentar os desafios da vida. A conexão entre as diferentes gerações pode contribuir para o desenvolvimento da resiliência em todas as fases da vida 17 . Estudo realizado em Massachusetts (EUA) identificou que a ausência de uma comunicação acessível com os pais ouvintes é um trauma comum vivenciado durante a infância por adultos surdos 18 . ...
Article
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Objective to ascertain the influence of parents’ communication on deaf children’s reception of health information, and health behavior. Method in this cross-sectional study of 110 deaf people selected by snowball sampling in municipalities in northwest Paraná state, data were collected from February to August 2019 using a structured instrument. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used in the data analysis. Results most deaf people (95.4%) received some health guidance in the family; being guided about the importance of routine appointments was found to be associated with the children’s attending such appointments in the prior year (OR = 3.40). The parent able to communicate in Libras was a protective factor, because in these cases, more guidance on drug use and sugar abuse occurred. Conclusion the parents’ communication skills enabled them to provide more health-related guidance, and this influenced their deaf children’s health behavior.
... While the shape of these interactions shifts as the rate of geographic separation between extended family members rises (Newman & Hatton-Yeo, 2008) and technological innovation grows (Derboven et al., 2012), each generation's influence on others within the family continues to be a critical component of development and learning. The benefits of intergenerational learning among individuals in the same family span multiple developmental domains and include improved transfer of knowledge and traditions, healthier relationships between the family as a whole, solidified individual and collective identity formation, and increased social cohesion (Driessnack, 2017;Tanskanen & Danielsbacka, 2018). ...
Article
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As an informal learning process, intergenerational learning in the family acts as a mechanism for the reciprocal transmission of knowledge between youth and adults. This scoping review of the literature synthesizes recent research relevant to intergenerational learning in the family between both adjacent and non-adjacent generations with the purpose of gaining a deeper understanding of how familial interactions align with three core principles of designed intergenerational learning experiences: learning about one’s own generation and other generations, reciprocal and equal exchanges, and shared commitments. The review revealed a fourth category, relationship building, which is unique to intergenerational experiences within the family context. Additional results are discussed and recommendations for future research around familial intergenerational learning are provided.
... From the perspective of mementoes themselves, they play an essential role as triggers for personal memory. Recalling memories of mementoes is a process of reminiscence, which improves psychological well-being and helps older adults find meaning in their life [15]. From a social perspective, stories told by older adults create meaning beyond the individual and provide a sense of self through historical time and in relation to family members, and thus may facilitate positive identity [16]. ...
Article
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Mementoes act as emotional companions that anchor stories. Older adults typically have a rich knowledge of family mementoes. However, storytelling and preservation of mementoes are still problematic for them: their mementoes are still mostly in physical format, which is difficult to share and preserve. Additionally, digital applications and websites for sharing mementoes usually are inaccessible for them. As a result, they spend much time collecting mementoes, but spend less time on telling and recording the related stories. In response to this, we report our study driven by the research questions: Rq1: What are the characteristics of older adults’ intergenerational memento storytelling? And Rq2: In which ways could a tangible display facilitate intergenerational memento storytelling for older adults? We designed a tangible device named Slots-Memento. We first conducted a preliminary evaluation to refine the prototype. In the field study, eight pairs of participants (each pair consisting of an older adult and his/her child) were recruited to use the prototype for around 1 week. Semi-structured interviews were then conducted both with the older adults and their children. Subsequently, mementoes collected were categorized and analyzed. Stories collected were firstly transcribed, then were conducted with structural and interactional analysis. In the concluding discussion, we present abstract implications for the research questions: two tables summarizing characteristics of their intergenerational memento storytelling, and related strategies of designing a tangible display individually.
... Storytelling plays fundamental role in human daily communication. Intergenerational storytelling and communication not only improves psychological wellbeing, reduces feelings of loneliness and depression of the elderly [6], but also contributes to the development of the young, which is associated with their increased resilience, better adjustment, and improved likelihood Permission to make digital or hard copies of part or all of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. Copyrights for third-party components of this work must be honored. ...
Conference Paper
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In this paper, we present Slots-story, a system consisting a slots machine-like device and a flash disk, aiming to facilitate intergenerational story sharing and preservation. The former is used by the elderly, which builds on metaphor of slots machine, and integrates functions of memory cue generator, story recording and preservation. In the flash disk, by default there are 40 trigger questions covering most aspects of an entire life course, and which could be customized by the young. The flash disk is also used to preserve story audios. Desgin requirements and opportunities are defined in contexual inquiry. Preliminary evaluation is conducted, discussion and future work are in the final part.
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Chapter
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Children actively seek to make sense of their worlds based on the information they receive and their experience. For children growing up at the intersection of genomic era and information age, the array of information and experience continues to expand. This article highlights the importance of exploring these early contexts for learning, including the children's exposure to books and mass media, and the impact of early learning on later health literacy and behaviors. This article presents a case study discussing the inheritance of cystic fibrosis using the Harry Potter book series.
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The stories that bind us: What are the twenty questions?
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Grandparents/grandchildren: The vital connection
  • A Kornhaber
  • K L Woodward
Functions and value of reminiscence for nursing home staff
  • A E Kris
  • L A Henkel
  • K M Krauss
  • S C Birnery
Compassion and healing in medicine and society: On the nature and use of attachment solutions to separation challenges
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The language of the night: Essays on fantasy and science fiction
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Last child in the woods: Saving our children from nature deficit disorder
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The secrets of happy families: Improve your mornings, tell your family history, fight smarter, go out and play, and much more
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The stories that bind us
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Stress alters children’s genomes. Poverty and unstable family environments shorten chromosome-protecting telomeres in nine-year olds
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The benefits of nearby nature in cities for older adults
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  • E Housley