I read an article a couple of years ago in the New York Times that said strong families have a strong narrative. Or, in other words, they pass their memories of hard work, fun, and sticking together on to their children.
I’ve thought about that a lot. I want our family to be strong, but how do I go about developing a strong narrative? There are as many way to do that as there are families. Each of us must find our own way. Here’s a memory that came up unplanned and unexpectedly that our grandchildren have told and retold.
Our house is at the edge of the foothills. The sidewalk runs the full length of the block, and we live at the bottom of the hill. When we were kids, we had roller skates. Remember the ones you tighten at the toes with a key? We used to strap those on and skate to the top of the block, turn around, and whiz all the way down the sidewalk to the bottom with the wind whipping our hair. We felt exhilarated as we flew along at top speed. We had hours and hours of fun on that hill.
Our children had skateboards when they were young, and they repeated the same activity, enjoying the breeze blowing across their faces. By the time they came along, the sidewalk was slightly uneven because tree roots had pushed the cement up here and there. That made it all the more fun for them because they had little jumps along the way.
Now our grandchildren ride their bikes to our house so they can pedal to the top of the hill and race down the sidewalk with the wind in their hair. The sidewalk has become very uneven with exaggerated bumps and dips from the tree roots. Bikes go over these with quite a jolt—as if we had a motocross park out our door step.
The grandchildren love to ask questions about skating down the hill when I was little and what skateboarding was like for their dad. Hours of fun have been had by the generations on our street.
Who knew such a simple activity would turn into a story that would be told and retold about family fun. What are your family memories? Tell your children about the fun you had as a child. They probably enjoy the very same activity—with a modern twist.
Here is the final quote from the New York Times article:
“If you want a happier family, create, refine and retell the story of your family’s positive moments and your ability to bounce back from the difficult ones. That act alone may increase the odds that your family will thrive for many generations to come.”
Christy Monson, M.A., (retired) established a successful counseling practice in Las Vegas, Nevada, as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. www.christymonson.com She shares more ideas in Family Talk: How to Organize Family Meetings to Solve Problems and Strengthen Relationships. Photo credit: cheesy42 / Source / CC BY-NC-ND