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Photos displayed around the home boost self-image and self-esteem

Posted Sep 15 2010 3:37am

Simpsons family portrait
A colleague sent me this article which first appeared on the online magazine 
Newborn to Teen in February last year. I thought how true it was for older people, too. 

When people go into care homes, they rarely have more than a few of their personal items with them. Their family photographs are a key part of their histories and having them with them connects them to their loved ones as well as the rich treasure trove of their memories and personal stories. It seems that the enjoyment and pleasure that family photographs provide stems partly from their early childhood experiences. 

With minor edits, here is the article:

The UK is a nation obsessed with keeping loved ones close, with 78 per cent of us keeping between one and fifteen pictures of our nearest and dearest around the home. 

However, those who have grown up without photos in the home are less likely to go on to display any of their own children presently, which could in fact be damaging their children’s image of self as they mature. 

Professor Geoff Beattie, Head of School and Dean of Psychological Sciences at the University of Manchester, says that photography in the home makes children feel valued and gives them a rich understanding of where they come from. Children whose parents display family photographs in the home grow up with greater confidence and sense of belonging than those who don’t, according to a top psychologist. 

Research conducted by Venture New Generation Portraits found that the number of photographs parents display of their children today is heavily influenced by how many photos of themselves they remember in their homes when growing up.

Professor Beattie said: “We cannot underestimate the power of photographs to keep us feeling linked to others and belonging. They cement us into our networks, “For children in particular, looking at photographs is part of the socialising process; learning who you are and where you fit into the family. By displaying photographs of our children at different stages of their lives, we are making a very public statement that we are proud of them.” 

The majority of parents questioned (83 per cent) had a favourite photo and of those, 58 per cent said it was taken with family, a partner or another loved one, and 45 per cent said it reminded them of a happy time. Professor Beattie adds: “It’s very significant that the two reasons people give for loving a particular photograph is that it reminds them of a happy time taken with family. These things are so important to us.” 

The survey found that 38 per cent of those who grew up with no photos in the house now don’t display family photographs in their own homes  Professor Beattie said: “I have always been dismayed that there weren’t more photographs of my childhood. There’s nothing sadder than searching for an old picture which isn’t there. When children grow up surrounded by photographs, it gives them a richer understanding of where they come from, which helps with confidence. I have done a lot of research into how important it is to be reminded of the past, and photographs are a brilliant way of doing that. 

“Until recently, people often thought of photographs as almost trivial, but actually they are an incredibly important way of connecting with our sense of self, with each other and with times gone by.” Previous research by Venture has also found that 71 per cent of parents thought that having pictures displayed around the home boosts a child’s self-image and self-esteem, with 90 per cent stating that they believe children to be more aware of their own image than 10 years ago.

Source: Newborn to Teen

Image: Matt Groening, Fox Broadcasting Company / Comedy Central

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