Here at the Spherical Model, we frequently repeat the truth that children thrive best in a family with their own married mother and father. Twenty years ago that was so well known and basic that it hardly bore mentioning. But this ideal family definition is so attacked today that we have to pull out the volumes of social science evidence proving what civilizations have known for millennia.
If the root—the basic best family form—gets decayed or destroyed, then there’s nothing supporting the growth of the civilization tree.
I’ve been mostly root supporting. That means there hasn’t been a lot of time here on how to succeed as a parent in a two-parent traditional family. There are many resources for that, and I am no expert. But I’m very aware that just getting society converted to supporting the natural family is still just a first step: then comes the job of training parents how to do it, since kids don’t come with their own instruction manuals.
Government isn’t the entity we should turn to for guidance. Churches can help a lot. And, for those who have a heritage of strong families, help can come from family history—from the loving parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who feel a natural pull of love, wanting those kids to grow up happy, healthy, and contributing.
This past weekend was a family history (genealogy) conference called RootsTech, held in Salt Lake City, and sponsored, as I understand it, by FamilySearch, the free-access-for-everyone family history website provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which runs the world’s largest family history library, open to the public, in downtown SLC. I had friends attend this conference, and noticed a lot of links coming up on Facebook and elsewhere. You can still “attend” the conference by online video, if you’re interested. It included fun lectures—one was The Pioneer Woman blogger Ree Drummond talking about recording with photography; she is an extraordinary photographer, but started with just a point and shoot camera and worked to improve skills over time. So, don’t wait until you’re skills are better, was the message there.
One thing, peripherally related, that I came across was a Washington Post piece about the connection between teen social/emotional health and family history. A study showed how family storytelling helps build family ties and family health. All those hours we’ve sat around talking at family get-togethers were for the benefit of our kids. Who knew?
The study used what they called a “Do You Know” scale, with twenty questions (below). Try asking these of yourself. Then, if you have kids old enough, let them do it. And follow up with answers and stories afterward. And follow up with your own parents, aunts, and uncles where you’re missing answers.
I had a great opportunity, four years ago. My dad had died (at age 91) right after Christmas, and I went and stayed with my mother for close to a month, to help with the many details and adjustments that come up at such a time. Two of her sisters came to visit one afternoon while I was there. My mom comes from a family of six girls and two boys: the three 80-something girls, plus a sister in her 90s, who hadn’t make this trip, and a younger brother are still around. Anyway, here were these three sisters, sitting and chatting, and telling stories for several hours.
At one point, while we were starting to mill around in the kitchen for food, I said, “I hadn’t ever heard some of those stories. I wish I’d recorded that.” And my Aunt Mary laughed and said, “No, you wouldn’t want that. Most of that wasn’t true.”
Later she and my mom explained that some of it was a difference in point of view. Their older sister was a little wild, and headstrong, and maybe didn’t remember things the way everyone else saw them. Still, as a feisty octogenarian, she was hilarious. And all of these women were clearly very strong, in their different ways.
I used to hear a lot of my dad’s stories. And I was the one who got to type up his life story. He hand wrote about fifty pages worth—but only up to about 1960. I was born by then, but my sister wasn’t. He had a timeline list for some later events, but depending on my memory was less reliable than his written story. I’m glad I got what I did, though. While it was sad to lose my dad, there was a completeness about the loss—we’d gotten so many good years, and memories, and heritage. We miss him, but there’s not a big missing hole.
Anyway, for your pleasure and emotional health, here are the twenty questions. (A note after the last one relates to the possibility that some family stories aren’t technically true.):
The Do You Know Scale
1. Do you know how your parents met?
2. Do you know where your mother grew up?
3. Do you know where your father grew up?
4. Do you know where some of your grandparents grew up?
5. Do you know where some of your grandparents met?
6. Do you know where your parents were married?
7. Do you know what went on when you were being born?
8. Do you know the source of your name?
9. Do you know some things about what happened when your brothers or sisters were being born?
10. Do you know which person in your family you look most like?
11. Do you know which person in the family you act most like?
12. Do you know some of the illnesses and injuries that your parents experienced when they were younger?
13. Do you know some of the lessons that your parents learned from good or bad experiences?
14. Do you know some things that happened to your mom or dad when they were in school?
15. Do you know the national background of your family (such as English, German, Russian, etc)?
16. Do you know some of the jobs that your parents had when they were young?
17. Do you know some awards that your parents received when they were young?
18. Do you know the names of the schools that your mom went to?
19. Do you know the names of the schools that your dad went to?
20. Do you know about a relative whose face “froze” in a grumpy position because he or she did not smile enough?
Score: Total number answered “Yes”