Why Tell Our Stories? Wisdom from RootsTech 2016 & Beyond

Sharing stories of your own childhood—including times your overcame hardships—helps your kids be more resilient (not to mention get to know you better!).

Sharing stories of your own childhood—including times your overcame hardships—helps your kids be more resilient (not to mention get to know you better!).

Stories help us connect with our loved ones, and glean insights into ourselves and our history. Stories have myriad benefits beyond that, too:

Studies show that kids with a knowledge of family history have higher self-esteem, lower levels of anxiety, and fewer behavioral problems. Children of parents who regularly reminisce about their own childhoods have been shown to be more empathetic to others. And teens who have been exposed to family stories are more confident, with better coping skills.

Fundamentally, stories help us remember. And photographs often provide that spark that helps transport us back in time—like the smell of your grandmother's banana bread or Hanukkah latkes. When combined, your pictures and stories have tremendous power!

Last week, tens of thousands of people gathered in Salt Lake City, UT for RootsTech 2016, where the theme was #STORYTELLING. Kudos! Some nuggets of wisdom on the topic from those who were there, and those who wished they were:

1. "Stories unite us; they help us recognize ourselves in others."

2. Family stories are gifts to our children.

Not only do the stories we tell our kids help them relate and feel like an essential part of the family, they strengthen them and make them undeniably more resilient. As keynote speaker and author Bruce Feiler wrote in a viral NYT piece from 2013:

"When faced with a challenge, happy families, like happy people, just add a new chapter to their life story that shows them overcoming the hardship. This skill is particularly important for children, whose identity tends to get locked in during adolescence.
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."

3. Stories help us preserve our history for future generations.

"What will our grandkids and great-grandkids know of us?” wondered Jens Nielsen, president at Pictureline, in his talk at RootsTech 2016.

We love all the reasons that are designated in the above article shared by Family Search, but two of our favorites:

• You and your family are important to somebody, probably many somebodies.

• Family trees are abstract. Stories add depth.

4. Stories keep alive in spirit those who have since departed. #legacy

5. Stories uplift us.

6. Stories make us feel love.

7. Stories tap into the wisdom of humanity, impart lessons painlessly, promote empathy. 

8. Stories are free entertainment.

“Best of all, unlike stories from books, family stories are always free and completely portable. You don’t even need to have the lights on to share with your child a story about your day, about their day, about your childhood or their grandma’s. In the research on family storytelling, all of these kinds of stories are linked to benefits for your child. Family stories can continue to be part of a parent’s daily interactions with their children into adolescence, long past the age of the bedtime story.” —The Atlantic

9. Stories are part of our everyday lives. #dinnerconversation

9. Stories are meant to be shared.

10. And last but not least: You gotta eat.


So tell your stories. Be generous with them. As we tell our young kids: “It’s good to share.”