Growing up, every time we went to Miami to visit my Dad’s side of the family, I’d hear the same story. My grandfather would tell us how he took his family and escaped Cuba in 1960, leaving everything behind. Even as a kid I loved hearing the story, it never got old. My grandfather would gather the grandkids and reminisce about the beaches in Cuba, curse Fidel Castro and praise the freedoms we enjoy in America.
Even though I grew up in Texas (far from the epicenter of Cuban American life in Miami) and I’m only half Cuban, being Cuban became a strong part of my identity.
As an adult, the ideals that drove my Grandfather to start over with only $20 in his pocket have become my own. That story and many others made me feel special, different and able to do hard things.
This is not a coincidence. The family stories you tell your children will impact them more than you can imagine.
Don’t take my word for it. Here some great articles that breakdown the positive outcomes telling family stories can have on your kids.
The Atlantic- What Kids Learn From Hearing Family Stories
"In the preteen years, children whose families collaboratively discuss everyday events and family history more often have higher self-esteem and stronger self-concepts. And adolescents with a stronger knowledge of family history have more robust identities, better coping skills, and lower rates of depression and anxiety."
"Research shows that children and adolescents can learn a great deal from stories of life’s more difficult moments–as long as those stories are told in a way that is sensitive to the child’s level of understanding, and as long as something good is gleaned from the experience."
The New York Times- The Stories That Bind Us
"The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative."
"The ones who know a lot about their families tend to do better when they face challenges"
"What children learn when they hear about their past -- both the good and the bad is primarily that they can chart their own course... They also learn that they are part of something bigger than themselves."
"Family stories provide a sense of identity through time, and help children understand who they are in the world"