This blog post is an excerpt from a genealogy presentation developed by Janice M. Bell for the 2017 Melnechuk Family Reunion and presented on August 5, 2017 in Colorado. Thanks to Dr. Martha Driessnack, Oregon Health & Science University, USA, for sharing the “Do You Know Scale” (Duke, 2013) resource with me.
There is a growing body of research about family storytelling (Rollins, 2013). Family lore and storytelling influence our lives, our hearts, and even our cells! Children who know a lot about their family history report less depression and greater feelings of control and capability (Duke, Lazarus, & Fivush, 2008).
In particular, families who refine and retell a unifying narrative about the family’s positive moments and resilience during difficult times, produce children who consistently show more self-confidence and esteem.
Engaging in family storytelling can bring richness to family relationships and create connection to the past.
Here is a way to get started: The Do You Know (DYK) Scale
- Do you know how your parents met?
- Do you know where your mother grew up?
- Do you know where your father grew up?
- Do you know where some of your grandparents grew up?
- Do you know where some of your grandparents met?
- Do you know where your parents were married?
- Do you know what went on when you were being born?
- Do you know the source of your name?
- Do you know some things about what happened when your brothers or sisters were being born?
- Do you know which person in your family you most look like?
- Do you know which person in your family you most act like?
- Do you know some of the illnesses and injuries that your parents experienced when they were younger?
- Do you know some of the lessons that your parents learned from good or bad experiences?
- Do you know some things that happened to your mom or dad when they were in school?
- Do you know the national background of your family (such as English, German, Russian, etc.)?
- Do you know some of the jobs that your parents had when they were young?
- Do you know some awards that your parents received when they were young?
- Do you know the names of the schools that your mom went to?
- Do you know the names of the schools that your dad went to?
- Do you know about a relative whose face “froze” in a grumpy position because he or she did not smile enough?
Duke, M. P. (2013, March 23). The stories that bind us: What are the twenty questions? [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marshall-p-duke/the-stories-that-bind-us-_b_2918975.html
Duke, M. P., Lazarus, A., & Fivush, R. (2008). Knowledge of family history as a clinically useful index of psychological wellbeing and prognosis: A brief report. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 45, 268-272. doi: 10.1037/0033-322.214.171.1248
Feiler, B. (2013, March 15). The stories that bind us. The New York Times. p. ST1. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/fashion/the-family-stories-that-bind-us-this-life.html?mcubz=1
Hanssen, L. M., Schutte, N. S., Malouff, J. M., & Epel, E.S. (2017). The relationship between childhood psychosocial stressor level and telomere length: A meta-analysis. Health Psychology Research, 5, 6378. doi: 10.4081/hpr.2017.6378
Rollins, J. A. (2013). The power of family history [Editorial]. Pediatric Nursing, 39(3), 113-114.
If you have a chance to experiment with these Twenty Questions from the Do You Know (DYK) Scale and wish to share your experience of using these questions with your family through a blogpost or podcast on this website, please contact me.