I’m often a bit stunned at how my lectures fall on deaf ears, where my stories are received with rapt attention.
It’s just one of the many benefits of telling family stories.
I can tell my children to be kind or honest or hard-working. OR I can show them people who were.
But as you know, it takes a little more thought and creativity to tell a story, no matter how much we believe in their power.
I think these five tips will help you weave more storytelling into your family’s life and experience what a positive impact it can make.
5 Ways to Weave More Storytelling into Your Family’s Life
1. Start thinking of yourself as a storyteller.
I know that line makes some of us incredulous. You may feel uncomfortable in a storyteller’s shoes, worrying about your oration skills or preferring to listening instead of talk.
But a story isn’t a story unless it’s told. Your family stories NEED to be shared. Refer back to this post on the role you can play in family history RIGHT NOW, if you still need convinced. After returning home from RootsTech a few months ago this idea has been on my mind a lot and I’m determined to work at being a better storyteller!
2. Brainstorm family stories that are applicable to your children.
Think about what obstacles your grandparents faced in their lives, as well as your parents’ obstacles and your own. Stories of your family working through hard things are the very best stories you can tell your kids, because they help kids believe that they can do the same. Familysearch.org is a great place to turn when it comes to finding and researching those family stories!
Also, brainstorm other character traits you want your children to develop, and find stories that illustrate them.
And lastly, don’t forget the stories that are just plain fun. The fun and the funny stories build our families up and teach our kids to find humor and joy in life.
3. Look for small pockets of time.
It may sound challenging to make room in our busy lives to share family stories. But storytelling doesn’t need a designated day or time, it doesn’t require more than five minutes, and it can be done while you’re doing something else!
The family table is a natural time to tell stories. (I like it when my kids’ mouths are busy chewing!) And as parents, we spend a lot of time transporting our kids from one place to another. These are perfect times to open up and share some stories.
4. Use photos to help family stories come alive.
My personal favorite time to share some stories is right before bed, when I climb under the covers with one of my kids and bring along a favorite family photo book.
Photos—whether they are from a year ago or decades ago—have so much power to connect us to our stories.
For inspiration, check out these top 5 places to print photo books.
5. Reinforce the habit by asking your children this question:
“In one to three words, how did hearing that story make you feel?”
I think the answers you hear will motivate you to keep it up. Answers like “love” or “belonging.”
“When we turn our hearts towards our ancestors something changes inside us. We feel part of something greater than ourselves.” Russell M. Nelson
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