Popular actress Kumnger Derje

My children and I are not planning on moving to Marin; he and his children are not planning on moving to Berkeley. It’s a logistical puzzle with some unique pieces, but I believe at its center is a question nagging many of us today: How do we build a happy family?

That’s the question Bruce Feiler poses in his recent book, The Secrets of Happy Families, and in his wildly popular New York Times article, published earlier this spring.

It turns out that a large part of constructing a happy family is about creating a particular type of narrative about our family history, one that demonstrates that members of our family have been through both good and bad times together, but through it all we’ve stuck together. This is a way of modeling your family’s grit and growth mindset.

Researcher Marshall Duke calls this the “oscillating family narrative,” and he and his colleagues have found that that when kids internalize it, they emerge more confident, with an “intergenerational [sense of] self.” That is a jargony way of saying that kids who know a lot about their family history—the parts that they didn’t experience themselves, but that were passed down to them through stories—feel that they are a part of something much larger than themselves.

When we give kids this sense of being part of something bigger than just themselves, they reap enormous emotional benefits, according to Duke and fellow researchers Amber Lazarus and Robyn Fivush, in a study made famous by Feiler. These benefits include

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