As you get ready for the Thanksgiving holiday (if you’re in the US!), what is the secret ingredient you need for a Thanksgiving feast of love and laughter that builds a strong family and resilient children? And how can you make it last last year after year?
No, for this secret ingredient, we’re not talking about yet another superfood. We’re talking about a super strategy: storytelling. But not just any kind of storytelling will work! It has to be the kind that develops what researchers call a “strong family narrative.”
- It’s what builds a strong family and resilient children.
- It’s just what your kids need, particularly as they navigate the challenges of adolescence.
- It’s the perfect time during Thanksgiving.
Why is “family narrative” so important in building a strong family and resilient children?
The family narrative helps build resilient kids. When they hear the challenges and triumphs of their family’s life–what researchers call the “oscillating family narrative”–children come to view adversity as something that happens in families and can be overcome. Children develop a strong “intergenerational self” and know they are part of something bigger than themselves. All of this builds resiliency in kids. And having a shared story builds a stronger family.
Why is the family narrative just what your kids need?
As Bruce Feiler, author of “The Secrets of Happy Families” explains, “When faced with a challenge, happy families, like happy people, just add a new chapter to their life story that shows them overcoming the hardship. This skill is particularly important for children, whose identity tends to get locked in during adolescence.”
Why is November a perfect time for building the family narrative?
In America, Thanksgiving week is one of the busiest travel holidays during the year. Many are traveling to be with their families. In fact, a presidential proclamation was issued in 2016 declaring the week of Thanksgiving as “National Family Week.” When families are gathered together, there’s a natural opportunity for sharing the family’s stories. Include the family narrative at your home as the secret ingredient to building a strong family.
What to do
The main thing to do is to start talking! Tell all kinds of family stories. Include some “oscillating family narratives.” These are the ones that show:
- the ups and downs of life
- how the family has stuck together through it all.
How to build in Literacy
With all the storytelling, it seems to beg the idea of adding one more ingredient: recording it to make it permanent. While video is a wonderful option, don’t overlook the opportunity to write these stories down! Family stories are perfect for reading and rereading each holiday season. Kids love this! And it makes for a truly authentic literacy experience for your kids.
This Thanksgiving, add the family narrative to your menu. It is THE secret ingredient you need for a family feast of love and laughter that builds a strong family and resilient children. And if you use the tips to build in literacy, you will fortify your family narrative in a way that nourishes your family every year!
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