What Kids Should Know About Their Family’s History

What Kids Should Know About Their Family’s History

One predictor of a child’s future well-being (including self-esteem, anxiety and depression levels, and family cohesiveness) is how well the child knows his/her family history. The more family stories, the better.

Photo by Thomas & Dianne Jones

The Do You Know scale, developed by researchers at Emory University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, tests kids’ knowledge of their family histories. The 20 yes/no questions are specifically designed to see if adolescents had been told stories such as how their parents met or jobs their parents had in the past. Scoring high on the DYK scale has been associated with better social adjustment for the kids and better family functioning overall. (Note that it’s not just knowing the answers that matters, but that these kinds of stories arise naturally from family interactions.)

The questionnaire includes questions such as: Do you know:

  • How your parents met?
  • Where your mother and father grew up?
  • Where your parents married?
  • How you got your name?
  • Good or bad experiences that taught your parents life lessons?
  • Awards your parents received when they were young?
  • Illnesses/injuries your parents experienced when they were younger?
  • Where your grandparents grew up and met?

It makes sense that with stronger family knowledge, kids can develop a better sense of their own identities. This questionnaire is a good prompt to make sure you’re sharing your family’s past with your kids. Hit up the link below for the full 20 questions.

Table Talk: The Intergenerational Self [The Mustard Seed House]


  • By this logic, I knew too much at 11 years old. And I agree. Advice for parents with children who have people in war. Read the records BEFORE your children see them.

  • And if you really want to know about your parents, wait for one of their old school friends to turn up at a party. I learned a hell of a lot that evening! That scar on my dad’s lip – home made cannon blew up when he fired it at the local army barracks. Dad’s holiday activities – picking up bits of rifles dropped/mislaid by clueless National Service squaddies then wandering in to the officers’ mess to hand over a complete gun plus lots of spares. Dad’s school activities – blowing up fence posts by drilling a hole in them, sticking a bullet in the hole and then hitting it with a hammer. Oh, and, with the help of a group of friends, putting the car of one of their teachers on the roof of the school.

    Had I know that a few years earlier, I’d have been far less worried about the tame stuff I got into trouble for at school.

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