Red Bird Memoirs
Red Bird Memoirs, personal and family history services
Your stories, your legacy

Why Stories Matter

Commemorate an anniversary or special event. Offering personal historian services to help you preserve your family history.
I read a beautiful letter recently, from a young mom thanking her grandmother for the profound influence she’d had on her life. When her own kids were driving her crazy, the young mom remembered the stories of her grandmother’s trials raising three boys, and was better able to find the humour in her own situation. The young mom was proud of the many qualities she shared with her Grandma Susan, and expressed particular gratitude for her grandmother’s maxim that “success is not an accident”. The quote gave the young mom the strength to pursue her dreams. But here’s what really struck me as I read: the two women never met in life. The older woman had already passed on before her granddaughter was born. Yet despite this separation, the young mom still felt her grandmother’s presence through the letters, stories, and family treasures that had been passed down to her.

When we ask our parents to share their stories, we honour their lives.

 This beautiful letter reinforced what I already believed: stories are an essential bridge between the past and the future, connecting generations in a profound way.  

​​Social scientists have reached the same conclusion. In the summer of 2001, Dr. Marshall Duke and Dr. Robyn Fivush made an astounding discovery. They interviewed four dozen families, and asked the children a series of 20 questions that tested their knowledge of their family history. The "Do You Know?" scale included questions like: Do you know where some of your grandparents grew up? and, Do you know some things that happened to your mom or dad when they were in school? The two researchers then compared the answers with a battery of psychological tests each child had received. The results amazed them: the children's scores directly correlated to their self-esteem, resilience, and social and academic competence. In other words, the more a child knew about his or her family history, the emotionally healthier they were.
When we pass down our stories, we give future generations an invaluable gift. Children gain a sense of rootedness, learning that they belong to something bigger than themselves. Adult children may see their parents from a new perspective, and gain a deeper understanding or appreciation of their lives. Other readers may be inspired by a storyteller's successes, or encouraged by the obstacles they've overcome.

There are benefits to the storyteller as well. Recording a personal or family history provides an opportunity for reflection, which may lead to new insight and personal growth. For many people, the process of revisiting the significant moments of their lives is both empowering and rewarding. Preserving the past is meaningful work and can bring a well-deserved sense of accomplishment. 

​What the next generation will value most is not what we owned,
but the evidence of who we were and the tales of how we lived.
In the end, it's the family stories that are worth the storage.
Ellen Goodman