Latter-day Saint Life

5 Key Secrets to a Happy Family I Learned from a New York Times Best-Selling Author


At the 2017 RootsTech conference, author Rachel J. Trotter met with New York Times best-selling author Bruce Feiler and learned five key secrets to a happy family. 

What is the secret to happy families? I interviewed New York Times best-seller Bruce Feiler and his research turned on some great light bulbs about parenting. It’s a surprisingly simple answer: stories.

There are many days of my life where I don’t feel like I know what I’m doing and I’m kind of waiting for someone to show up and clean up the messes I’ve made—literally and figuratively. Case in point: my refrigerator—can someone show up and clean that thing out? But, I digress. So while most days I feel like my life is organized chaos—parenting six kids, working from home, and volunteering on church and school committees—I sometimes get a small tender mercy, a clue that I might be getting one or two things right. One of these tender mercies hit about two years ago when I sat at the media dinner for RootsTech2015. It was my first time attending the media night for the huge family history conference in Salt Lake City. The event is sponsored by FamilySearch, the family history arm of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

One of the classic and wonderful parts of the night focused on the importance of storytelling, backed up with data…this spoke to the journalist in me always loving stories yet seeking proof. Shipley Munson, the marketing guy for FamilySearch told us about a study (click here to read more about the study) done in the 1990s by a university researcher and then revisited in 2012 by Bruce Feiler about happiness and stability in children.

I want to break down what I learned that day and the next year when Feiler came to RootsTech and got to talk with him about the concept of family stories and happy kids.  I had the great joy of interviewing him one-on-one about the “secret sauce” that holds families together. (Click hereto read about that full interview.)

5 Key Secrets to Happy Families: 

1. Family Stories=Happy, Confident Kids.

Feiler said children are happy, self-confident, and well-adjusted when they know where they came from when they know their family stories. At that moment my voracious note taking at the dinner came to a halting stop.

Lead image courtesy Rachel J. Trotter
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