Robyn Fivush

Intergenerational Narratives

Families reminisce together throughout childhood. Family reminiscing may become especially important during adolescence when children begin to form their own independent identity, questioning who they are and who they want to be.  Elaborative family reminiscing about the shared past (e.g., a family vacation or holiday) has positive adolescent outcomes, but more importantly we have discovered that family stories about the intergenerational past, stories about the parents growing up, are uniquely related to multiple aspects of positive adolescent development. Adolescents who know more family stories and tell more coherent and elaborated intergenerational narratives show higher identity exploration, higher self-esteem, lower depression and anxiety, and a higher sense of meaning and purpose in life than their peers. 

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