Above photo courtesy of the New York Times article.
The first thing Nick Noyes — who was to become my husband and the father of our six kids — said to me was, “Do you know how to make refried beans?” Those were also the only words he spoke directly to me that day, even though we were together for at least another 10 hours with a small group of friends. It was an inelegant start to our relationship.
Our children love and frequently repeat that story, in part because it reminds them that one doesn’t have to be suave to find true love. But also because it is just so typical of their dad at the start of any new relationship. He’s a shy and sometimes awkward guy. But his still waters run deep enough to have nurtured a large and loving family.
Our kids also relish our tradition of telling embarrassing stories about the celebrant at family birthday dinners. It’s your party — we lovingly lampoon you. But, we don’t forget to mention the achievements — athletic, academic, social, whatever — either. We love your strengths as well as your weaknesses.
These stories have become the bedrock of strong, loving Noyes family ties. Do something stupid? That’s okay, we still love you. Do something great? We still love you too. Nobody’s perfect – particularly us. We have our ups and downs. We will always be there for each other though.
Bruce Feiler’s “This Life” column in today’s New York Times, titled “The Stories That Bind Us Help Children Face Challenges,” explains that this type of family narrative and tradition — which recognize good times and bad — builds stronger kids.
Feiler concludes, “The bottom line: if you want a happier family, create, refine and retell the story of your family’s positive moments and your ability to bounce back from the difficult ones. That act alone may increase the odds that your family will thrive for may generations to come.”
Read more here.