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What Is Your Family Story?

Updated: Sep 18, 2021

I grew up in the days when we would take photographs with our camera, bring them in to be developed, wait a week or so, pick them up and, with much eagerness, look at the pictures and relive the memories we captured. Then my mother would tear back the plastic sheet and place the photos in a photo album and write a couple words about what we were doing at the time the photos were taken.

My mother was consistent in making photo albums. On Saturday mornings, we kids would go to her closet and take down the 15 or so albums and just look at the pictures telling our family story.

There were albums for each of our family vacations. There were albums of the ordinary times that included all our birthdays and visits with friends. Each of us kids had our own special baby album with a special cover made for it. Inside the cover were all the well-wishing cards that people sent my parents when we were born.

The most interesting albums though, and there were only a couple, were the ones of my parents before we were born. We would spend hours asking questions about their lives, why they dressed so differently, why daddy's sideburns were so big, where Dad worked, and whether we could go see the places that they had lived in.

If this small habit has the potential to make my family stronger, it is certainly worth the time and effort.

The idea of keeping a photo album morphed as technology changed. There was an extensive scrapbooking movement that took the photo albums to an all new level. But then, albums decreased as our cell phones became our cameras and the album all in one. Now most pictures sit on the cell phone–sometimes they make it onto a computer but rarely ever are they printed into an album.

But we should go through the trouble of keeping a family album because:

  1. Every family has a story. The classic photo album tells the story of your family in pictures and words. The story is generally chronological and thus becomes a sort of family history.

  2. Knowing yourself comes with knowing where you come from. There is security, peace, and confidence in knowing that you are a part of something bigger than yourself and in knowing your place in that something. That “something” is the family. When children sit and physically open an album and take an hour to look through the pictures, the act of doing so is solidifying their understanding of the family and their place in it.

  3. Our memories are short. The album captures our life in snapshots and makes the most important memories last a long time.

Now, the act of keeping an album is labour intensive and really, no one really goes and develops hundreds of photos anymore. So, what is the alternative?

In our family, we do two things:

  1. We upload all the pictures from the phone and cell phone into files onto the computer and then make the folders the screen savers. The children, when they're bored, will sit and watch the pictures of our family story come up on the screen and they talk about the times we've had together.

  2. We now use an on-line publishing company (like, which allows us to make an album on-line. Then we have it printed on high quality paper and sent to our home as an album.

If there is one thing that I would impress on parents as an act that helps to bind your family together, it would be to take the time to record your family story in an album.

Because of the example of my mother, we have albums on our shelf from when we were dating, our honeymoon, a baby album for each child, and many others. Now we have a rhythm wherein we publish a 100 page album every 6 months.

As a father, I watch my children, from the youngest to the oldest, sitting on our couches and flipping through our family story.

If this small habit has the potential to make my family stronger, it is certainly worth the time and effort.

Semper Fidelis,

Kenton E. Biffert


Kenton is a writer and speaker, and works at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College as an adjunct professor and the Dean of Students. Together with his wife, they homeschool their 8 children, explore the wilds of Ontario in the canoe, and read voraciously. To learn more about the art of fatherhood, visit Kenton's personal page.

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