Would you like to build deeper relationships with your children, grandchildren, teenagers, or any other special children in your life? Then tell your stories. Share your family history. The special children in your lives need to hear about you.
Recently, my three and a half-year-old granddaughter, Selah, walked over to my antique wood burning cook stove in our dining room. As she fiddled with the burner holders, she asked, “Nana, can you really cook on this?” I immediately walked over to her, knowing I had a teachable moment. I proceeded to explain the various parts of the stove and helped her lift the heavy burner covers to look down inside. I showed her the compartment where the wood is placed. I explained to her that this was my grandmother’s cookstove that she used many years ago and that she always had to build a fire to get it hot. Selah was all ears.
I love it when this happens! I know I used these kinds of teachable moments with my own children, but quite honestly, they are a blur. But now that I have grandchildren, I grab these special story telling times whenever I can. And I don’t rush the stories as I have more time these days in my second half of life.
Bruce Feiler, who authored the New York Times bestseller The Secrets of Happy Families, said this: “Researchers at Emory did this study that showed that the kids who know more about their family history had a greater belief that they could control their world and a higher degree of self-confidence. It was the number one predictor of a child’s emotional well-being.”
The best stories our children hear are the stories we tell ourselves. Right before bedtime is the perfect time to engage young children/grandchildren with a story. You might even ask the child if they prefer a “book story” or a “real story”. Chances are good that they will ask for a real story, one that you can tell about yourself, recounting your own childhood days. When you’re in the car with your teen, ask them to set their cell phone down and tell them a gripping family story! Engage them with some family history.
And don’t discount telling your stories to adults. The comments and questions surrounding the family stories that fly around the dinner table at the holiday seasons are surely the best. The funny family stories that we can laugh about year after year warm our hearts when we reflect on them.
We can create memories that last a lifetime by telling our family stories, connecting one generation to the next.
“You are a champion in the hearts and minds of your kids, and they want to know all about you.” (George Foreman)
“Children especially love two things: the first is stories, and the second is hearing about their parents’ [and grandparents’] lives.” Dan Sullivan
I would love to hear from my readers how you share your family stories with others. Scroll down further to leave a comment!
Becky Van Vleet
From my sister, Jincy: What a beautiful story about Mamaw’s cookstove. Precious memories came flooding back and I found all five senses working overtime… the smell of the stove, the taste of the food, listening to voices, seeing family gathered around, and especially feeling all the love surrounding us. Always in my memory, forever in my heart.
Becky Van Vleet
From Cyndy Nicholson:
I have been fascinated with genealogy since I was just beginning to read. The Family Tree was in between the OT & the NT. Last winter I wondered who would become interested once I was gone. Not that anyone has to; I’ve enjoyed it enough for all of us.
Anyway, I decided I would take some of the things I know to be true, add pictures from family albums, and include pictures off of the internet to clarify the story. If Grandma pumped her own water, they might need to see that she didn’t use the pump we air our tires or our basketballs with. Or maybe include a picture of the President when the story took place.
That was what I began last winter, using my Sunday afternoons.
When I came home and read them aloud to my 9 yo granddaughters, I knew I needed to make some changes. They are all on my IPad & may never be completed, but at least it’s a start. And they love hearing them!
Becky Van Vleet
From Kathy O’Neill: This is such a great story, Becky! You are so good at capturing those moments to pass on stories and family traditions to your grandchildren! You inspire me to try harder at that.
Thank you, Kathy–this is my passion!
Love your article “Through the Eyes of a Child.” It’s touching, and the picture of the toy monkey is just precious!
Becky Van Vleet
I too look for teachable moments with my grandkids.
Sometimes I think I overdo it! Once when I was helping one of the little ones with a jigsaw puzzle, I tried to compare the importance of the “borders” of the puzzle to the importance of having “borders” in one’s life.
Suffice it to say, the lesson was lost on a child too young to understand metaphors.
It challenges me to know that I “teach” lessons all the time by the way the grandkids see me live my life.
I always enjoy your writings, Becky.