When she was little, she jumped off a car and broke her leg. She got around by scooting on her bum (and wore out the seat of her pants in the process!). Her mom put her in a wagon to walk her to school, and once at school, she had to stay in her seat until her teacher could carry her to where she needed to go.
He had a dog named Rusty who would wait for him to come home from school and run to greet him. He also played with a bobcat who was a pet of someone in town, and he had a cat who walked along the piano keys.
When she was a teenager, she once had two boys visit at the same time, and she had to come up with excuses to go back and forth so they each wouldn’t find out the other one was there. Her mom stepped in to entertain each boy while she stepped out of the room to visit the other one.
When he was a teenager, he loved to go on dates and attend the dances of his small Idaho school. He still goes to his high school reunions and knows everybody there.
My parents told us loads of stories about themselves as we were growing up. It wasn’t a formal thing. They just shared memories when they popped into their heads, or when something current related to something from their past.
It was funny to think of them as little kids, and then as silly, flirting teenagers.
But aside from amusing their kids, my parents were also (unknowingly) helping to build reading skills, self-esteem, coping skills, and more for their cute offspring.
The Atlantic reported that children who hear family stories from their parents have a better understanding of people’s thoughts and emotions and can even tell more advanced narratives, skills that help children learn to read complex material as well as get along with others.
Plus, in the preteen years, kids who hear family stories more often have higher self-esteem. Adolescents have been found to have better coping skills and stronger identities when they have a strong knowledge of their family history.
Conscious Storytelling to Form Connections
I have a pretty good memory of my childhood (but don’t ask me anything about last week—I can’t remember a thing!), so I’ve always shared stories with my children without thinking anything of it. But when my oldest turned 9 and we began to struggle to get along, I thought back to when I was her age and tried to remember what I felt then.
And then I began to consciously tell her my stories.
I told her about friends who suddenly became mean, arguments I had with my parents, and brothers who picked on me. I told her about when I was mean to friends, when I didn’t understand what was going on in school, and when I was just confused about it all. I also told her a lot of happy memories from that time.
And it brought us together. We had been fighting like cats and dogs, and suddenly, she wanted to spend more time with me—right by my side and even in my lap, lanky limbs and all. She asked me questions about my childhood, and I took those as clues as to what she might be going through. She stayed back with me any time the family walked ahead, and she talked my ear off.
It seemed she trusted me more. She knew I understood her, and she wanted to share herself with me.
It didn’t solve every problem we were having, but it sure helped with a lot of our issues.
Connection does that.
Storytelling does that.
I think there is a power in sharing our stories that we still don’t yet fully understand.
Share your story with your child.
It doesn’t have to be a sit-down conversation. Just let yourself remember memories, and speak them out loud. As you go, you’ll likely find memories that relate to the exact thing your child is going through. Tell your child what you remember. It will be a relief to them. It will form a connection.
Our children need to know us.
QUESTION: Have you told your kids many stories about you or other family members? How did they react? Is it something you’d like to do more often?
CHALLENGE: As you go about your holiday traditions this year, make an effort to share stories with your kids. You can tell them about your memories of holidays past or anything that comes to mind. Pay attention to how they respond and see if it improves your connection.
This article originally appeared on Rebecca’s blog here.
Edited for Power of Moms by Kimberly Price
Image from PicMonkey/Unsplash.