Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Stories as the 'secret sauce' that binds families

Bruce Feiler wrote an essay in the New York Times about the importance of strong narratives to make a family work more effectively. Below is an excerpt from his article:

“I first heard this idea from Marshall Duke, a colorful psychologist at Emory University. In the mid-1990s, Dr. Duke was asked to help explore myth and ritual in American families.

“There was a lot of research at the time into the dissipation of the family,” he told me at his home in suburban Atlanta. “But we were more interested in what families could do to counteract those forces.”

“Around that time, 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 [about their family history]…

“The ‘Do You Know?’ scale turned out to be the best single predictor of children’s emotional health and happiness.”

Read the whole article in the New York Times.

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