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Familiy stories innoculate adolescents from trouble

Researchers at Emory University have found that ordinary dinner conversations with parents provide children with resilience in the uncertain world they face. Stories about granddad’s first job or mom’s legenday cooking strengthen young people, giving them proof that family life goes on despite problems.

“The power of the family stories and the family history is really remarkable,” said Robyn Fivush, a psychologist who directed the study, which was released yesterday by the Georgia university.

“There seems to be something that’s particularly important about children knowing where they came from in a larger sense, and having a sense of family history and a family place,” she said.

The three-year study recorded dinner conversations of 40 families in the Atlanta area. The parents also were asked to share both positive and negative events with their children and to tuck in questions developed by Emory psychologist Marshall Duke such as “Do you know where your grandparents grew up and went to school?”. They found that adolescents benefited especially from stories about how relatives overcame troubles.

The Emory study is confirmed by other findings:

Earlier this month, Harvard University deemed the at-home family meal “protective” to children because it helped curb high-risk behavior such as tobacco, alcohol and marijuana use.

A Columbia University study of teen lifestyles last year found that among teenagers who shunned dinner with mom and dad, 72 percent were more likely to use illegal drugs, smoke and drink alcohol.

Posted by Michael L Umphrey on 10/15 at 10:37 AM






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