chapter  3
40 Pages

Emotional Content of Parent-Child Conversations About the Past

Reminiscing is a quintessentially human activity. We talk about past experiences with friends and family and reflect on our past during quiet moments alone. We interpret present experience in light of previous experience and plan for our future by examining our past. Moreover, our past experiences are emotionally saturated; we recount and reminisce about particular events because they are personally significant and emotionally meaningful. Most provocative, as the opening quote from Virginia Woolf suggests, the emotional meaning of an event may only emerge in retrospect. From this perspective, emotions should be considered in a social interactional framework; as we recount events to others and ourselves, the emotional meaning of the past evolves.