I was recently shocked to hear from a friend that they didn’t know how their parents met.
“Didn’t you ask?” I queried.
“No, they didn’t really talk about personal stuff,” they replied with a shrug.
It was an eye opener to realise some people don’t openly share with their kids.
Obviously I come from a long line of sharers. I know my parent’s stories. I know my grandparent’s stories. I know my great-grandparent’s stories, through my family.
And not in an “I had to walk 10 miles in the snow – you are so lucky” kinda way.
I remember listening, rapt to my grandparents tell stories about the war, about struggling through natural disasters, about raising families and the good times they had. I particularly loved the nostalgic glint in their eyes as they recounted adventures from their youth.
In turn, I share with my kids and I love that want to hear my stories.
They love hearing about what it was like when I went to school and are often blown away by how so many things are still the same, or trends that have come back in vogue.
I tell them about the crazy adventures their grandparents dragged me on. And they can relate because their grandparents drag them on crazy adventures too!
I tell them about how I met their dad, our life before kids, their birth stories and things that happened when they were little.
Sharing our personal stories with our kids can give them so much. Studies have even been done that show the emotional benefits.
It builds their sense of identity. Sharing stories of previous generations them gives roots by helping them understand where they came from. It can explain family traditions, while reaffirming their values and belief systems. There is a study that shows adolescents who can recount inter-generational stories have a higher level of well-being.
It builds resilience and helps emotional regulation. Telling them real life stories of challenges overcome and hard times turning into happy times lets your kids know that life goes on. It can help equip them to overcome the tough stuff they will inevitably face. Research shows that knowledge of family stories is linked to higher self-esteem, lower levels of anxiety, and lower incidence of behavior problems.
It builds your bond. Sharing personal stories with your kids gives them a chance to know you as someone other than “mum” or “dad”. It makes your connection deeper, gives them insight into your interests and reminds your kids that you are a person with lived experience.
Do you tell your kids stories about your life? Do you remember your grandparents telling you such stories?