The Stories That Bind Us


In an article in the New York Times entitled “The Stories That Bind Us,” Bruce Feiler reported on research into children’s resiliency and their ability to deal with stress.

Research Findings

Children who knew a lot about their families:

  • Tended to do better than other children when they faced challenges.
  • Proved to be more resilient and able to moderate the effects of stress.
  • Had a stronger sense of control over their lives.
  • Had higher self-esteem.
  • Believed that their family functioned successfully.
  • Felt that they belonged to something larger than themselves.

Why Do Stories Help Children?

From family stories, children gain insights into how to deal with the situations they encounter in life. A family’s stories tend to support a “unifying narrative” or pattern.  For example, family narratives might include: overcoming adversity, doing what’s right, and helping other people in times of need.  The healthiest narratives reinforce the sense that family members persevered through many ups and downs as best they could with varying degrees of success.

How to Improve Children’s Resiliency

  • Tell stories to children whenever possible (at the dinner table, in the car, and so on).Tell all types of stories, from simple or humorous (our family’s worst vacation ever) to profound (my grandmother’s struggle with cancer).
  • Tells stories that reflect life’s ups and downs but result in a positive outcome over time and show the family’s ability to overcome difficulties.

For the Full Article

“The Stories That Bind Us”
New York Times, March 15, 2013
By Bruce Feiler