Feiler contends that happy families know about their family's history. He cites a study which was done of multiple families which found:
"The more children knew about their family's history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self esteem, and the more successfully they believed their families functioned."
Some years back, inspired by her kids' love of these tales, one of my sisters hit upon the idea of writing a family storybook. Each fall, she emails everyone in the family a subject, and we all write of topical personal or family occurrences. Last year the subject was 'accidents' and entries included the tale of one of my brothers and I piloting our toboggan into a fence post at a high rate of speed, and a sister's bike crash which ended with her landing in a tree. We send these stories back to my sister, and at Christmas, her children receive a new chapter to add to their family binder. Her husband also sends it to the rest of the family in ebook form, so everyone can enjoy the stories.
At one of our most recent family get togethers, I entered my sister's living room and found a bunch of the young cousins gathered around my eldest niece, Katie, as she read them the story, 'Great Grandma and the Halifax Explosion'. None of these kids remember their Great Grandma Dorothy, but they know about her. Through this tale, they learn about an important event in Nova Scotian history, as well as how scary it was for five-year-old Dot and her family. It makes her real and relatable; she'll never be just a figure in old photographs to them. As the years go by, these children will grow up and have families; they'll take with them these stories and add more of their own.