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  • Jodi Lee


Artwork by: Caitlin Connolly

"The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative.” -Bruce Feiler

What is a family narrative?

According to Leanne Wolff, a family narrative is the following

“The family narrative is a part of personal heritage, uniting a family's past and its present and providing a link to future generations.”

In short, a family narrative is a combination of family stories that help to shape us.

"In the mid-1990s Marshall Duke, a psychologist at Emory University, was asked to help explore myth and ritual in American families.

In short, a family narrative is a combination of family stories that help to shape us.

Dr. Duke’s wife, Sara, a psychologist who works with children with learning disabilities, noticed something about her students.

“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.

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."- The stories that bind us by: By Bruce Feiler (the New York Times) READ FULL ARTICLE HERE



There is power in knowing where you come from. There have been times in my life where I have been called upon or asked to do things where I have felt completely overwhelmed. It’s in those times I remind myself of my Mother, Grandmother and Great Grandmother. I think of their endurance and courage and it always gives me the strength to move forward and accomplish the task at hand. Do you know about your ancestors? Do you know their stories?

Start out with something easy. I would encourage you to learn about your Great Grandparents and work your way forward to your Grandparents then your Parents . Look at photos and read their life stories. There are those of you in circumstances where you do not know your family history or maybe you're not proud of where you come from. Remember, you can be the pioneer (a person who is among the first to do something) in your family. Be the one that your great, great-granddaughter looks up to for strength. How does knowing and learning about your Grandma give you confidence and resilience? Because it gives you a sense of belonging to something bigger than yourself. And knowing they overcame hardship reminds you, that you too can do hard things. ​-Jodi Lee Nicholes




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