Family narratives

Posted by  Mark Schenk —March 26, 2013
Filed in Communication, Fun

At Christmas, I was in Melbourne with my two kids. All my family live there and I needed to do what I could to ensure there was no disharmony or feelings of favouritism. So I applied Shawn’s guiding principle in these matters: ‘Families are like fish. After three days they start to go off’. So I stayed for a few days with each of my relatives.

It turns out that there is another way to maintain harmony and indeed, to build resilience in families, especially children. Have a family narrative.

This article in the NY Times claims that “The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative.”

Three types of narrative are described:

  • The ascending family narrative which goes ‘when we came to this country we had nothing. We worked hard and look at us now’
  • The descending family narrative which goes ‘we used to have it all and then we lost everything’
  • The oscillating family narrative which goes ‘we’ve had our ups and downs, but no matter what happened we always stuck together as a family’

Apparently, this last narrative is the healthiest, especially for building the confidence and resilience of kids.

Many thanks to Ken Everett from Think On Your Feet® for the pointer to this article.

Mark Schenk About  Mark Schenk

Mark works globally with senior leadership teams to improve their ability to communicate clearly and memorably. He has been a Director of Anecdote since 2004 and helped the company grow into one of the world’s leading business storytelling consultancies. Connect with Mark on:

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