November 2017 Board Message

The Family: Source of Intergenerational Power

Recently, I attended a wedding reception for a family friend. I was struck by the deliberate and intentional ways that this family has held onto their own family culture. The celebration included specific elements celebrating their blended heritage, from traditional Polish dances to Italian dishes. Cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents filled the room, welcoming guests, in a show of collective family happiness and excitement to see mutual friends who have shaped the family’s combined narrative. As an outsider, I was touched by the strength and power that can come from family relationships that bolster you in times of heartache, cheer for you in times of happiness, and support you in times of struggle.

In 2008, Marshall Duke and Robyn Fivush published a study focusing on children’s knowledge of a family narrative. The study reported that children’s and adolescents’ “knowledge of family history is significantly correlated with internal locus of control, higher self-esteem, better family functioning, greater family cohesiveness, lower levels of anxiety, and lower incidence of behavior problems.” Having a family narrative becomes a unifying factor for the family and a means to resilience for the children. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22122420

As we focus on the good that one family can contribute to society, we need to be deliberate in giving our own children the resilience that comes from an intergenerational family narrative. Families are unique, and their histories (and, really their present circumstances) are often messy, beautiful, heartbreaking, and inspiring all at the same time. It is the oscillating nature of that history that gives children and adults a sense of being part of something that is bigger than themselves. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/fashion/the-family-stories-that-bind-us-this-life.html?_r=1&

This month, we as Big Ocean Women, honor the contributing role of families and thank you for the ways in which your family positively shapes our society.

Angela Silva
Big Ocean Board Member

Lisa Bjorn