The Power of Myth:
The Benefits of Sharing
Family Stories of Hard Times
The Wall Street Journal Online (New York, NY)
December 22, 2005
Before you drag out old family stories at holiday gatherings this season,
researchers have some news for you.
The tales you choose to tell, and the way you tell them, may play a bigger
role than you think in shaping your children's self-esteem and their
A growing number of researchers are putting family stories under the
microscope, recording and dissecting the plots and adults' storytelling
techniques to uncover links to children's development. What they're finding
is that a sense of family history is linked to self-esteem and resiliency in
kids. And contrary to what adults may assume, happily-ever-after tales
aren't always best. Instead, stories of relatives grappling with sad or
difficult events may give children the wisdom and perspective they need to
A study by Joan E. Norris, a professor at University of Guelph, Ontario, and others, one of 16 studies published last year in the book
Handbook of Dynamics in Parent-Child Relations, recommends looking for storytelling opportunities.
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