Saturday, July 13, 2013

Moses' Family Stories: Reading Deuteronomy for Resilience

I heard an astonishing thing on WBUR's "On Point" this week.  Apparently, the more we tell our children their family stories, the stronger and happier they are. 

Bruce Feiler, who has also written about Abraham and about "walking the Bible," explained research that makes this point to host Tom Ashbrook.  Here's a succinct summary from a parenting website:

Marshall Duke, a psychologist from Emory University, began exploring resilience in children in the 1990s. His sense was that when children knew about their families that they handled the ups and downs of life more easily. He and a colleague, Dr. Fivush, developed a 20-question survey called “Do You Know” that they gave to children to find out what kinds of things they knew about their families. As reported recently in the New York Times, “The more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believed their families functioned.” Much to their surprise, the “Do You Know?” scale turned out to be the best single predictor of children’s emotional health and happiness.
Today, Jews around the world let Moses tell us our family stories.  We begin reading D'varim, or the book of Deuteronomy.  In it, the aging Moses tells people two full generations younger than he all the things the research says they need to know: "stories featuring an oscillating narrative including both elements of success and failure, stories of living with and overcoming adversity."

Let us listen to these stories and become more resilient.  Let us teach them diligently to our children so that they can share the sources of strength.

No comments: