How often do you hear the word “connectivity” these days? There are certainly some advantages of being connected to the world wide web and being connected to friends and family through technology. But being “connected” nowadays seems to result in fewer and fewer connections.
One of the definitions for “connection” is “association; relationship.” Is our connectivity increasing or decreasing our connections? It seems like real connections are fewer and fewer while our need for real connections is growing. Family stories– telling them and knowing them –are a powerful, excellent resource to create connections between family members.
The Power of Connections
There is a lot of research available about what connections mean to us. This quote from Families in Society is just one:
“Strong connections across generations within our extended families can lead to better well-being, the capacity to bounce back from tough challenges, and the ability for all of us to become contributing members of society.”
When it comes down to it, we all need a source of strength, a place to belong, and a group of people whom we can count on. Making connections among family members allows for safe growth, nourishment, and love. Strengthening those bonds or connections takes time and devotion, but the effects are life-changing and enriching. They help everyone involved.
Several years ago, I came across a beautiful, real-life example of what creating family connections can really do for people. It’s shown in the last minute of this video (which I’ve queued for you already):
There is POWER in connections. Connections make life meaningful and rich. We need each other. Bringing relationships to the forefront and opening hearts links siblings, parents, or cousins to each other and creates intergenerational ties as well. Re-establishing or emphasizing connections draws hearts together. It can bring spouses closer together and give children a circle of protection from negative influences in the world.
Family Stories Create Connections
Have you read the benefits of family stories? There are pointers there on how to get started, too, if you’d like some.
Not sure if you have any family stories to tell? Here are some you might not have thought about:
- love story
- life story
- adoption story
- military story
- service story
- mission story
- survival story
- the story of your family heirlooms
- history of your family’s origins
- baby story
- ancestor story
- “before I was your mother/father” story
Show Your Love
“Unless you love someone, nothing else makes any sense.” ~e.e. cummings
Another personal way of telling a story that makes connections is through a You Are Loved story. A “you are loved” story is just a small collection of reasons a person is loved. While this isn’t necessarily a family story, it’s an opportunity to open or soften a heart, give encouragement through teenage years, or simply express what someone means to you. I suggest writing specific reasons why “you are loved.” When YOU reach out to create something like this for someone, you are strengthening the connection between you and that person.
I knew a sweet man a few years ago who decided to write the love story of himself and his wife. They’d been married 25+ years and had five children and a few grandchildren. He told me that an amazing thing happened as he wrote. He fell in love again. He told me that at one point during the process, his wife caught him staring at her. She couldn’t figure out the *something* in his gaze and when she asked, all he could say was, “I’m just falling in love again.” All the memories he was recalling and recording brought to the surface the feelings he felt so strongly more than 25 years before.
Connect Through Family Stories
Family stories, memories, and photos, are some of the most powerful ways to make connections, and the good news is that they’re right at our fingertips. Just recording what you know, remember, see, and feel is the best way to start. Adding photos brings everything to life. This is especially important when recording family stories of people whom you or your children have never met (like grandparents or great-grandparents), but photos make stories exciting and real, so they are a beautiful and meaningful addition to any story.
Bring your family closer together through family stories!
- Alliance for Children & Families. (2014). Intergenerational Family Connections: The Relationships that Support a Strong America. Retrieved from https://s3.amazonaws.com/pushbullet-uploads/ujzNDwQrsR2-QxTil8hk0hW7vWI9xLN5nSob1277pQaN/FINAL_Alliance-GU-Infographic_4Web_updated.pdf
- Dictionary.com. (2017). Retrieved from http://www.dictionary.com/browse/connection?s=t
- Hertiage Makers. (2017). Retrieved from http://www.heritagemakers.com/gallery/#/t/123787
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