“Who Are You From?”: The Importance of Family Stories

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Abstract

This article emphasizes the importance of family stories, or intergenerational narratives, and their health benefits across the lifespan. Knowing and sharing the story of who you are from complements the current focus on knowing and sharing one’s geographic heritage, or where you are from. Knowing one’s family stories creates meaning that goes beyond the individual to provide a sense of self, through time, and in relation to family. This expanded sense of self is referred to as our intergenerational self, which not only grounds an individual but also provides a larger context for understanding and dealing with life’s experience(s) and challenges. This connection across generations appears to contribute to resilience at all stages of life. This shift in focus challenges family nurses to rethink and/or prioritize the use of family stories as a key health-promoting intervention for not only children but also their parents, and their parents’ parents.

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