Thursday, June 27, 2013

Tell Family Stories

By Deborah Pace Rowley

Recently I read an article in the Christian Science Monitor that was entitled, "Tell Family Stories: It Could Determine their Future" by Jim Sollisch. Here is just an excerpt:

"There is evidence that kids who know their families’ stories are much better adjusted than kids who don’t.
Marshall Duke, a psychologist at Emory University, along with his colleague Robyn Fivush, developed a simple 20-question scale called “Do you know?” It asks things like “Do you know where your grandmother grew up? Do you know where your parents went to high school?”

(My father William Pace as a little boy on his pony Flash) 

They gave the survey to 66 kids and then compared the results with a battery of traditional psychological tests the kids had previously taken. They found an overwhelming correlation: The kids who scored highest on the “Do you know?” scale turned out to have higher levels of emotional well-being.

The more you know about your family’s story, the more you feel a part of something bigger. You see yourself as a character in an ongoing saga, a narrative of successes and failures, of striving – because that’s the story of every family, really. 

So the next time your children ask for a story, you don’t have to conjure up faraway kingdoms and alien creatures. Tell them about the time you hit the game-winning shot.Tell them about their grandmother who, when her husband died, talked her way into his job as a traveling auto parts salesman back in 1944. That’s a story my mother told my brother and me, a story that reminded us we come from a family that doesn’t take no for an answer.

It seems to me that the best stories are the ones only we can tell our children."

Wow! I love that. I have always enjoyed telling my children stories about their heritage. One Christmas I made all of my siblings and their children a collection of family stories that I had copied and bound at a local printing shop. The cover looked like this. My children helped color each one.

My children's favorite story in this book is "Grandma Baptized the Chicken." It is a story about my grandmother Virginia Judd Pace when she was a little girl on a small farm in Coalville, Utah.

This is a picture of my grandmother with her father George Henry Judd. For you to understand this story, you need to know that we are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) and in our faith, children are baptized when they are eight years old. We have been taught that at age 8 children reach the age of accountability and are old enough to make their own choices and understand right from wrong. We are also baptized by immersion which means that we are completely submerged in water rather than being sprinkled.

Now that you know those few details, you can hear how the chicken got involved. This is the story as told in my grandmother's own words:

"My brother Bill and I were pals. One time we were in the corral at the watering trough by the big barn. The trough was large like a bathtub we use nowdays. We decided to play baptize. So we went to the chicken coop and got a hen. We said words, I can't remember what, but then we pushed her under the water. She flipped and fluttered and sputtered and of course, we knew if you don't go very bit all under the water, it doesn't count. The last time under she didn't fight but when she came up her head flopped. She was dead. O grief, what had we done! What would daddy say? Well, maybe if we put her back on the nest she would dry off before Daddy found her. It didn't work, Daddy found her and guessed what had happened. The two of us were questioned and we were honest and confessed. "Well," Daddy said, "Don't you think you should be punished?" Yes, we knew we should be. So Daddy took from his pocket his best knife and said, "Cut some switches for your lickin." We headed to the back of the house where there was a hawthorn tree which had thorns. Bill said "We really have been bad. Better get some with thorns on it, while we are at it." We slowly, humbly, with heads low brought the thorny switches and turned around, waiting for the punishment. We waited, waited, glanced at each other and then guess what? Our dad started laughing and he really laughed so that he couldn't stop. We turned around and he said, "You have learned a lesson. It's ok kids."

(Virginia Judd's Family) 

I am not sure what lesson my children learn from that story. It is okay to accidentally kill farm animals? Couldn't be that! But as a Mom, I have learned that I don't need to take EVERYTHING so seriously and that when my kids make innocent mistakes, sometimes it is okay to just laugh! I think every parent needs to remember a story that teaches that lesson.

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