This week I’m writing about dictionaries and spatulas. We’ll circle back to that.
I want to write about the stories and jokes that make the nuclear family ‘one.’ The March 2017 blog called “Grandma Says” centers on this topic and made me think about my family:
Every family has a story. It is this story that unifies us, gives us a core identity. Think for a moment: what was the narrative of the family in which you grew up? What about the family in which you are raising your children? … Psychologists tell us that children with the most self-confidence are those who have a ‘strong inter-generational self.’ They have internalized the concept that they are part of something bigger than themselves, part of a larger family.
Studies have shown that such children are more likely to have a stronger sense of control over their lives and higher self-esteem, believing that their families function successfully.
Here are three pillars:
- Building Family Identity – memories of holidays and vacations, of Oreos and milk for dinner (yes, I did that), of the apology that came to me from the top of the stairs from an 8 year old in the form of a paper airplane down to the dining room, of the first entrepreneurial effort selling apples for $.25 each at the end of our driveway, or of the minnow inside the snow pants when the sled went into the creek.
- Family Customs – examples from our family: the Red Plate honoring birthdays or other achievements or regular Sunday night popcorn suppers that I WISH I had done and would have made a great memory.
- Family Communication – making time for the answers to the “Do you know?” questions.
- Do you know where your grandparents grew up?
- Do you know where your parents went to high school?
- Do you know how your parents met?
- Do you know how your parents chose the work that they do?
- Do you know the story of your birth?
- Do you know how you got your name?
One of my favorite “family identity” stories goes like this…our thirty-something boys grew up in Indiana with the Whole Language approach to teaching reading, meaning limited emphasis on teaching phonics. With my early childhood and developmental training as an educator, I KNEW that philosophy was misguided and a total disservice to teaching spelling. While both of our boys grabbed onto reading easily, our oldest seemed to have trouble with spelling.
So one Christmas, I gave Brian a dictionary with an easy method for finding words with the notches for each letter of the alphabet. It brought a LOT of eye-rolling, as you might expect, and some laughter.
Next Christmas, Brian gave me a spatula (pictured), which brought howls of laughter and still brings a smile when I use it, and a comment when he is here cooking in the kitchen.
What are your family stories? Do you share them with your kids?
Best in parenting,
Director, Meridian Hills Cooperative Nursery School & Kindergarten