The importance of storytelling in raising kids.
“And then I was shot! And you can still feel the bullet hole!” I remember my sister and I sitting at my grandfather’s feet, anxiously awaiting the continuation of his story as he regaled us with his accounts from the battlefield. However, with age comes wisdom (hopefully) and his war stories were eventually reduced to tall tales, and the “bullet hole” was recognized as his bellybutton.
But despite those facts, I never tired of hearing him share his stories, because I always loved to see the sparkle in his eyes and hear the charisma in his voice when he was spinning a yarn. He helped us understand the importance of storytelling in raising kids.
My father adopted his storytelling skills from his father, and it has been really special to watch my children interact with him in the same way. Much like the passing of a baton, my four-year-old son has already begun to carry on the tradition… his recounting of a wild or magnificent story is the tell-tale sign that he has been with my dad.
This memory from my childhood prompted me to reflect on the importance, presence, and impact of storytelling in our daily lives.
Since the dawn of man, we have been compelled to share our stories, whether through ancient cave drawings or Instagram Stories. We are storytellers by nature.
However, I wonder if we are sharing the stories that need to be shared, following the stories that need to be heard, and providing space for the stories within our families to be told. These curiosities, paired with the upcoming Father’s Day holiday and this article assignment, inspired me to host a night of connection and conversation featuring the patriarchs of our family.
I envisioned us all gathered around a campfire sharing stories, laughter, tears, and a bottle of whiskey. I imagined us giving “the stage” to all of the fathers and grandfathers – ranging in age and experience – to share their memories, lessons, perspectives, insights, and nuggets of wisdom.
Sadly, due to time and schedule restraints, this dreamy exchange was diluted to email and text correspondence (womp, womp). But let’s be honest, I kind of set that dream up to fail as it started with us sitting around a campfire… a campfire… in May… in Southwest Florida where we experience record high temperatures and humidity.
But maybe my execution of this experience wasn’t the point. Maybe the point was to inspire you to create this opportunity within your own family. While my dad has always been a storyteller, my mother was not, and it wasn’t until after she passed away that I realized that there was so much that I never knew about her past that I wish I had taken the time to invite her to share.
So, I now invite you to make these moments happen for your families. We are often so easily distracted by our schedules, our technology, and our feeds, that I fear that if we’re not careful, we could miss the good stuff… I mean the really good stuff… the deep, meaningful connection that is often delicately embedded in the everyday moments.
While I am all about organic conversation, it is certainly worthwhile to intentionally create the space for purposeful discourse.
History is so much more than a series of chronological events. It is the story of the human condition across time and space. So then, what about the history of our own lives? Our own families? Sometimes, we can find ourselves so caught up in the stories being told and shared about the lives of others on social media that we are missing out on our own.
How can we create the opportunity to connect, grow, and share in a more meaningful and intentional way?
- Maybe for your family (or even mine) this doesn’t come as a one night feature event.
- Maybe it becomes more of a journey of seeking, learning, and knowing.
- Maybe it’s a monthly scheduled family Zoom meeting where each family member takes turns choosing a question or topic that ignites discussion to which everyone contributes.
- Maybe it’s handwritten or typed stories to be reflected upon and shared for years to come.
- Maybe it’s short video interviews taken on your phone.
- Maybe it’s having family dinner once a week (or once a month) when the t.v. is off, the phones are away, and all that remains are food, family, friends, and fellowship.
What lessons can be learned? What connections can be made? What walls can be broken down? What empathy can be developed? What efforts can be appreciated?
Despite my weak execution at facilitating a gathering of all the fathers in my life, they remotely showed up in a big way and reminded me that our family’s story is a riveting one. Ours is a story of magical moments shared between father and child on the basketball court, at a favorite fishing spot, or around the dining room table playing cards.
Ours is a story of everyday experiences transformed into treasured memories because the characters involved allowed themselves to be fully present and engaged, like the interactions witnessed between our fathers with their grandchildren. Ours is a story punctuated by milestones – Homecoming games, softball championships, graduations, weddings, births – and firsts. First steps, first visits to Disney and SeaWorld, first times skiing and seeing snow.
Ours is a story of traits and skills passed on or adopted by the next generation from that which was modeled. Ours is a story of imperfection, but also one of grace, forgiveness, and redemption. Ours is a story of growth, resilience, respect, appreciation, and above all, love. And I got all of that from a measly e-mail correspondence… I can’t wait until I can get all these men together and throw some whiskey in the mix!
What is your family’s highlight reel? Who are the featured characters in your family’s story? What moments, events, and experiences take the spotlight? Is there a moral to the story? What is the theme? The motif? As the authors of our lives’ stories, we carry the power to frame the past as well as that to direct the future.
Oftentimes, reflecting on the past will influence how we show up in the present and approach the future. What an awesome opportunity and responsibility!
Storytelling has been in style for millenia, and as such, I encourage you to embark on this adventure with me. If any of you take me up on the whiskey and HIS-storytime, let me know. I would love to hear how it goes. Regardless, we would love for you to connect with our LUXYMOM® community to share how you are honoring and celebrating the fathers and father figures in your lives.
To all of the fathers, grandfathers, step and bonus dads, foster and adoptive parents, father figures, and those phenomenal mothers who are filling the role of both mother and father for their children, we see you, we appreciate you, we celebrate you, and we honor you! Happy Father’s Day!