“On my way home from college for holiday break, I couldn’t get a bus all the way from Nashville, so I hitchhiked…” This is the start to one of many stories that my granddad would tell us growing up, and that will be passed down in family lore through the generations.

All families have them, stories that any member could repeat at the drop of a hat. These stories are important for many reasons. Not only do they help pass down history, but the ones we choose to tell and re-tell say something about what the family values, and how members have endured over time. Each family has had their own trials, stress, and challenges, but you are proof of your family’s resilience.

Think about your family stories, and what they highlight. Do they convey a certain set of messages? When you consider the family stories that you want to tell, having a good understanding of what you want younger generations to take away can help preserve your family culture, while also letting go of patterns or values that may no longer be useful or appropriate in our current societal context.

For example, in the story above, family values of independence, ingenuity, and resilience are conveyed. However, some other family stories highlight strict gender roles, misunderstanding of other cultures, or other prior norms that you might choose not to emphasize as your family evolves.

A trained mental health therapist can support you if you’re struggling to build, or rework, your own family culture. *FS tag line