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Family reminiscing and the construction of an autobiographical self

Escola Superior de Educação do Instituto Politécnico de Santarém
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  • Autobiography
  • Memory
  • Narratives
  • Self
  • Parent-Child Interaction.
  • Literature


Narratives are the process and product of self-understanding. Following from both sociocultural and feminist theories, the ways in which we construct narratives of our past experiences is a critical site for the construction of a coherent sense of self and well-being. Substantial research has established individual differences in how families reminisce about the shared and intergenerational past, and relations between family reminiscing and children’s developing autobiographical narratives, self-concept and emotional well-being are well demonstrated. A review of the empirical research from preschool through adolescence indicates individual, gender and cultural differences in family reminiscing. Mothers are more elaborative and expressive than are fathers, both mothers and fathers are more elaborative and expressive with daughters than with sons, and independent cultures, such as European cultures, are more elaborative and expressive that interdependent cultures, such as Asian cultures. Empirical relations and implications of these differences in family reminiscing for child self and well-being are discussed.

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