Sharing family stories benefits young, old

Nov. 24, 2011 at 10:47 PM
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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., Nov. 24 (UPI) -- Holiday family gatherings are a perfect opportunity for sharing family stories to the benefit of younger and older generations, a U.S. counselor says.

Samuel Gladding, a professor of counseling at Wake Forest University, said he and his wife created collages of trips, soccer games, plays and family outings for each year they were married to remind their family of shared events.

Gladding, who has written several books on family counseling, said shared family history strengthens individuals and families.

"If you know the past, you are much more likely to benefit from it and be inspired or determined to make the future better or at least as good as the past," Gladding said in a statement. "Knowing family stories can inspire children to ask 'Can I do as well or better?' If you don't have something to aspire to, you probably won't grow."

When a grandparent shares a story about becoming a U.S. Navy pilot after being turned down on his first try, it helps convey the importance of perseverance, or when a favorite aunt tells about moving to New York to find a job at age 18, it demonstrates taking chances, Gladding said.

Telling stories that highlight older relatives making their mark can reinforce older adults' self-worth, while also inspiring younger family members, he said.

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