What could attending the
Redd Family Reunion
do for your family?
See what researchers say . .
12 year old Mary's pantalettes made from a bed jacket
Stories Strengthen Our Children
Children’s resiliency and ability to deal with stress is increased by learning about their families, the New York Times reported in an article by Bruce Feiler. The “secret sauce” for binding families together turns out to be a strong family narrative -- built through telling family stories and attending family get-togethers. Like this summer’s Redd Family Reunion, it’s safe to assume. After all, our Redd family history is rife with stories of hardship, joy and challenges met. Like this one:
As Redd family members blazed their way along the grueling Hole-in-the Rock trail in 1879, many days brought trials and disappointments. The children of Lemuel Hardison Redd, Jr. and Eliza Ann Westover Redd remember their parents’ stories of how the company warded off discouragement along the trip to San Juan County, Utah:
“When night came and they camped, always weary, the women in the party took over and prepared the evening meal and the beds for the night. Following supper, the couples danced quadrilles on the slick rock to the music of a fiddle and a harmonica. For a few hours they laughed, danced, and enjoyed life. They dropped into bed healthily tired and happy. When morning came, they were refreshed and ready for the grind ahead.”
In a 2001 study, psychologists found that children who know a lot about their families do better when they face challenges.
“The more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believe their families functioned,” the NYT article proclaimed.
Maybe the following story teaches a valuable lesson in resourcefulness as it tickles the funny-bone, then:
“When Mary Verena Bryner Redd (1866-1934) was about twelve, she wanted some very fashionable pantalettes to show beneath the hem of her dress for her first photograph, and she hadn't any. Her mother had a nice hand-embroidered bed jacket she wore when she had been ‘confined,’ so she put Mary Verena’s feet through the sleeves and folded and pinned the rest up around her underneath her skirts, so she had some lovely embroidered ruffles showing.” (By her daughter, Lura Redd)
The NYT article goes on to say that children need to know about good times and bad in a family, over multiple generations. Children with the most self-confidence have what researchers call a strong “intergenerational self.” They know they belong to something bigger than themselves.
The importance of the Redd family’s intergenerational bond is foreshadowed in the patriarchal blessing given to John Hardison Redd in Nauvoo, Ill., by Hyrum Smith:
"Your name shall be perpetuated from generation to generation, and you shall be blessed in your house and habitation, and in the covenant of Grace, and shall have an inheritance in the lineage of your fathers, and honor shall crown your head, notwithstanding the wickedness of the world.”
A poignant story about John Hardison Redd’s son, Lemuel Hardison Redd, shows how tragedy shaped his life:
Lem had a sister, Mary Catherine, who was his youngest sister and about two and a half years younger than he. They were very near and dear to each other. She took suddenly sick when she was seventeen and called for her brother Lemmie, but he was out plowing and her father said she could wait until he had finished the day’s work. She died before he got to the house that night and he never got over it. I guess none of them did. They used to think and say that that was the reason he was a bit overindulgent with his own children.
Researcher Marshall Duke recommends that families work together to build a sense of history. He lists “holidays, vacations and big family get-togethers” as ideal opportunities. Luckily for all of us, we have a big family get-together coming up on July 25, and it will be crammed with opportunities to learn about how Redd family members lived, loved and solved challenges.
“When faced with a challenge, happy families, like happy people, just add a new chapter their life story that shows them overcoming the hardship,” the article said.
A little story about a bad day on William Redd’s (1885-1944) farm drives home the point:
All day long, machinery had been breaking down. Finally, even the car needed to go to town for repairs, but it would not start. A man working for us said, “l’ll bet your Dad will swear a blue streak now.”
I knew Dad would not swear. All Dad said was “Pshaw.” And then went about fixing the car. (Barbara Redd McPhee about her father, William Redd)
The bottom line, the NYT story said, is this: “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 many generations to come.”
We know a place and a time where you can do that: This is the Place State Park, July 25, 2015. See you at the Redd Family Reunion!