What Does Your Child’s Self Esteem Have To Do With Family History?

by | Mar. 12, 2016

Mormon Life

What Every Parent Wants For Their Child

As parents, raising children who have a healthy self-esteem is one of many things we want our children to develop. Living and teaching them the gospel is an important part of this development.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks says, “Establish in the mind of a young person the powerful idea that he or she is a child of God, and you have given self-respect and motivation to move against the problems of life.”

How To Increase Your Child’s Self Esteem

Along with planting in our children that they are sons and daughters of God, research shows that family history can help strengthen a child’s self-esteem.

Having an interest in how family stories correlate with how children deal with challenges, psychologists Dr. Marshall Duke and Dr. Robin Fivush created a “Do You Know Scale”—a list of 20 questions about family history. They questioned 48 families on what they knew about their family’s stories. They compared their results to psychological tests the children had taken. What they found was that the children who knew their family stories had higher levels of self-esteem, a stronger sense of control over their lives, lower anxiety, fewer behavioral problems, and better family functioning.

Family History & September 11, 2001

The above test was completed in the summer of 2001, two months before the September 11 terrorist attacks. Dr. Duke and Fivush found a unique opportunity in the midst of this difficult time. The families they studied were not directly affected by the events, but all the children had experienced the same trauma on a national level at the same time. The psychologists reassessed the children.

They found the children who knew more about their family stories were more resilient and better able to handle the stressful events.

Why is it important to know how you grandparents met or where they grew up? It provides a sense of identity, unity, and belonging to a larger family.

Researcher’s Share Scale Questions

After the original research and highly cited New York Times article was published, parents were searching for the “Do You Know Scale” questions. The researchers shared the questions in this Huffington Post article. They gave a caution that it is not just knowing family history that is beneficial but is the process of talking with adults and learning the family narrative that leads to positive outcomes.

So take a look at these questions and get the conversation rolling with the kids in your life. Family history not only bridges us to the past but is now showing that it can shape your child’s future.

The "Do You Know Scale"

1. Do you know how your parents met?

2. Do you know where your mother grew up?

3. Do you know where your father grew up?

4. Do you know where some of your grandparents grew up?

5. Do you know where some of your grandparents met?

6. Do you know where your parents were married?

7. Do you know what went on when you were being born?

8. Do you know the source of your name?

9. Do you know some things about what happened when your brothers or sisters were being born?

10. Do you know which person in your family you look most like?

11. Do you know which person in the family you act most like?

12. Do you know some of the illnesses and injuries that your parents experienced when they were younger?

13. Do you know some of the lessons that your parents learned from good or bad experiences?

14. Do you know some things that happened to your mom or dad when they were in school?

15. Do you know the national background of your family (such as English, German, Russian, etc)?

16. Do you know some of the jobs that your parents had when they were young?

17. Do you know some awards that your parents received when they were young?

18. Do you know the names of the schools that your mom went to?

19. Do you know the names of the schools that your dad went to?

20. Do you know about a relative whose face “froze” in a grumpy position because he or she did not smile enough?

Leslie and Phil are the husband and wife team behind Ten Cows, Inc. The idea for the site came when they were trying to find Sabbath-appropriate activities for their young son and they decided to develop a kid-friendly app that provided easy access to uplifting videos. Since then they have also written 1000+ Activities To Enrich Your Sabbath Day, a free eBook full of ideas for families trying to keep the Sabbath day holy. 

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