Generational Wisdom: The Power of Story in Your Legacy
Sarah Bradley | May 11 2020
We are obsessed with culture: how to create it, sustain it, and multiply it . But culture isn’t merely for companies and organizations. Every family has its own culture as well. This culture is built moment by moment over the lifespans of current, former and future generations.
Our mission is to help families thrive across generations, and we believe helping families sustain a healthy culture is an important part of executing on that mission. My role at Archetype involves helping families share their unique culture via a three-chord strand of blessing, narrative and values.
The Power of Story
Psychologists Dr. Duke and Dr. Fivush conducted a study on adolescent children; they researched how knowing the family narrative impacted each child. The Psychologists developed the “Do You Know?” scale, which consists of twenty yes/no questions that tested the child’s knowledge of things they could not have learned firsthand (for example, “Do you know how your parents met?”). Children who knew more about their family history scored higher on the “Do You Know?” scale.
The results of the study were astounding.
Children with higher scores on the “Do You Know?” scale consistently exhibited more positive and open communication, higher self-esteem and greater self-acceptance. Additionally, these children exhibited an increased ability to plan for the future and lower levels of anxiety, depression and anger.
The knowledge itself was not as important as the process within the family that passed down that knowledge. The children could not answer the questions using firsthand knowledge. They only knew the answer if they had been told the story.
Sharing stories requires the family to sit together, talk, listen and respect one another. It requires telling and retelling how the family came about, flourished, struggled and overcame.
To quote one journalist who reported on Dr. Duke’s and Dr. Fivush’s study:
“The bottom line: 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.” 
Thriving families tell their story, not just once, but over time: at dinner, on holidays and during vacation. We believe story-telling is an important part of creating culture and an integral part of creating and sustaining the family.
So I challenge you: What stories do your children need to hear from you?
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