Telling Family Stories
We are committed to helping families discover and preserve the stories that guide them, and the members of our team are committed to capturing their own families’ stories to pass along to the next generation.
In addition to Esther Choy guiding family enterprises as a Lecturer in the Center for Family Enterprises at Kellogg School of Management, we help family businesses tell their stories. Storytelling helps family enterprises understand and communicate their vision, keeping them rooted in their history yet relevant in the present and progressing toward their future.
Because this is an important facet of our work at Leadership Story Lab, we are excited to share insights that shape our approach. We would be happy to help your family share their stories, contact us to start the conversation.
Leadership Story Lab
When we bring up the past, the selection of stories is intentional: there's something we want to highlight that we want others to remember and repeat. So, when my daughters fight as siblings inevitably do, I can remind them of the time Melia was so thoughtful and protective of her older sister that she was willing to subject herself to the horror of staying in her room by herself (a frightful thing, apparently) if it meant her sister received comfort and reassurance. I can turn my daughters’ experience into a story that is shaping their identity, relationships and future.
Leadership Story Lab
We forget a lot. But what’s the big deal? In a family context, the story that a family’s collective memory gets to keep means a great deal, especially for the next generation.
Leadership Story Lab
How do you collect the stories that people tell you—either people in your family or at your organization? Whether you opt for high-tech options or lower-tech options, don’t simply trust memory and hope your memories will surface and help you recall family stories later on. Capture them while they’re fresh.
How family storytelling positively affects children and teens: advanced narrative skills, higher self esteem, better coping skills, lower anxiety. Parents shouldn't sanitize stories for their children -- just tell it like it was.
From a Christian perspective, but a general audience will also appreciate its tips about preserving family heritage through story. The last section of the article lists ways to put your story together: interviewing relatives (or asking them to write their memories), a video camera at family gatherings, create a collection of the family's favorite things, a family scrapbook, and keeping a journal.
Tell grandkids: how you met your partner in grandparenting, the day the grandchild's parent was born, the day the grandchild was born, what school was like for you, your first job and your favorite job, your proudest moment.
Ways for seniors to pass on their stories and heritage to younger family members: collect family recipes, make an audio/video recording, make a family tree, make a family time capsule, write out favorite memories, or dedicate a tree/bench (not sure this one really applies).
Interesting article about how the way we tell ourselves our own stories shapes who we are. Heavy on the idea that all of life is story and how the brain is wired for story (not necessarily how stories are passed down through the generations).
Interpersona (professional journal)
A study about the public vs. private stories family tell and how they go about it. Most families focus on positive stories that make them seem pro-social and happy, with negative stories showing how the family has overcome.
Psychol Trauma (professional journal)
A study about how the way families tell stories can help them heal when dealing with trauma.
Examples of how being candid with your kids can give you an avenue to talk to them about your own experiences when you demonstrated (or didn't demonstrate) a particular character trait, like courage.
New York Times
"The more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believed their families functioned."
The everystory app incorporates photo, video, and audio narration to tell family stories.
The stories etc app creates what is essentially an interactive e-book with audio, video, photo, narration, and text.
A helpful app created by this celebrated non-profit, StoryCorps, which is often linked with NPR, but has so much more to offer than its weekly syndicated snippets. The app is simple to use, comes with many great questions to ask your loved ones. Choose whether or not to archive the interview in the library of congress.