This blog post is an excerpt from a genealogy presentation developed by Janice M. Bell, daughter of John and Violet (Luchak) Melenchuk 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 (Duke, 2013)
- 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: 10.1037/0033-3220.127.116.118
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.
Check out a YouTube video created by Ashley (Bell) Matus in 2010 which celebrates the Melnechuk family and honors those who have left us a rich legacy of memories.