Story of Stories #2 — Resilience

Alan Tabor
An Idea (by Ingenious Piece)
6 min readDec 7, 2020

…Ray Charles was shot down / But he got up…
-Van Morrison

What family stories do your kids know?
What stories do you remember from your grandparents?
Which grandparent stories do you think your grandchildren should know?

These are important questions simply because knowing the family narrative is a key to resilience in children and young adults…and likely all of us.

…researchers at Emory did a study that showed that the kids who know more about their family history had a greater belief that they could control their world and a higher degree of self-confidence. It was the number one predictor of a child’s emotional well-being. (emphasis mine.)
- Bruce Feiler.

detail — thinking about stories collage

At Emory University in Atlanta, Marshall Duke at their Center for Myth and Ritual in American Life and Robin Fivush of the Family Narratives Lab have been researching resiliency and identity formation.

(The collage images are from a visual analysis of mine.)

In a series of studies, Fivush and Duke gave children, adolescents, and young adults a battery of psychological tests. The intent was to find the factors affecting children’s well-being. Sparked by an insight from Duke’s child psychologist wife, Sara, they added a new test of their own: the “Do You Know?” scale.

The test consisted of 20 questions that gauge a child’s knowledge of their family history. Examples:

  • Do you know where your grandparents grew up?
  • Do you know where your mom and dad went to high school?
  • Do you know where your parents met?
  • Do you know an illness or something really terrible that happened in your family?
  • Do you know the story of your birth?
  • Do you know about a relative whose face “froze” in a grumpy position because he or she did not smile enough? (My favorite.)
detail — thinking about stories collage

Knowledge of family stories stood out as the main factor in predicting emotional…

Alan Tabor
An Idea (by Ingenious Piece)

Berkeley Backpacking Biz Lifer, System Builder, Coder, Community Organizer, Music and Evolutionary Biology Geek. Sign up and my projects at