What Is the Story of Your Number?

Apr 18, 2022 | ACE/Adverse Childhood Experiences, Children's Mental Health, Positive Parenting

How many of us have wondered if our own childhood experiences may be affecting how we’re able to show up for our kids? Caring for kids can bring up new challenges and test our capacities for coping, or resurface issues from our past that we thought we’d left behind us. Whatever our journey, understanding our Number Story – what happened to us as kids, and how we may be impacted today – can help us improve our own well-being and better support the children in our lives.

​​Adverse Childhood Experiences – or ACEs – are stressful events or circumstances that occur before age 18, and include experiences like abuse or neglect, having a family member with a substance use issue, or the divorce or separation of parents or caregivers. The initial ACEs study assessed ten common types of childhood adversities. Your Number Story is the story of your ACE history and what happened to you as a child and teen.

Why Should I Care About My Number Story?

The study revealed that the higher our number – or the more types of childhood adversity we experience, the higher the likelihood of lasting negative effects on our health and well-being. Our odds of experiencing an array of health issues throughout life increase, and there can be more barriers for us in school, work, and relationships. The effects of ACEs can be passed on from generation to generation, through both behavior and biology.

We All Have a Number Story

ACEs are common; nearly two out of three adults reported experiencing at least one type of ACE, and more than one in five adults reported experiencing three or more. The ten ACEs included in the initial study are not the only kind of childhood adversities we may face. Discrimination, poverty, racism, community violence, and other common experiences can have similar impacts.

However, adversity doesn’t represent the whole equation. ACEs don’t define who we are. The impacts are treatable, and prevention and healing are possible. Resilience can be passed on from generation to generation, and we can change the legacies we create for our kids.

Proud Partners of American SPCC

The ACE Resource Network – the team behind NumberStory.org and the nation’s first public health campaign around ACEs – is excited to partner with American SPCC to help equip parents and caregivers who may have experienced challenges in our own childhoods and are looking to do things differently as we raise our kids. We’re proud to help create awareness around the impacts of childhood trauma and adversity, and to connect more caregivers with American SPCC’s robust array of resources. We’re especially thrilled to share a new resource we developed together.

Introducing a Toolkit for Caregivers

“We All Have a Number Story: Your Child’s First Chapters”

Our new toolkit for early childhood is unique in its framework around the lasting impacts our own Number Stories may have on us as parents and caregivers – how our children may be affected, how their early years count, and how we can help provide a strong start for our kids and families despite tough times and situations. Our hope is that this accessible resource will help us as caregivers better understand and care for ourselves and our little ones. We know how challenging the early years can be – especially if we’re still carrying around baggage from our childhoods. It gets heavy, and we’re hoping this toolkit will help us as caregivers and parents unpack some of that, and lighten our load. We can choose new ways to approach our relationships with ourselves and our kids as we help create our children’s first chapters – with resilience, hope, and love.


Joy Thomas leads Community Engagement and Learning with the ACE Resource Network, an organization working to increase awareness and education around the impacts of childhood adversity, and to promote healing and prevention. Joy has led workshops and presentations on childhood trauma and adversity for many national, regional, and local communities. She served as Creative Arts Director at Child Parent Institute, where she led a team in implementing trauma-responsive creative arts programs to improve the well-being of children, youth, and families. Joy spent years in communications, staff development, and community engagement for county human services, with a focus on child abuse prevention, access and equity, and family strengthening.

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