Family Stories

My children are young and love to hear stories. As educated parents who are trying to raise academic-minded children, we value books and reading to our children. We regularly take our children to the library to get books to complement the shelves full of books we have at home. However, our kids consistently ask for us to tell them stories, rather than read them books. Sometimes, I think they would gladly get rid of all the books and just listen to stories.

Every family has stories. These stories are a reflection of past events, but they are much more than that.

Stories remind us how important each member of the family is to each other. My children love to hear about how Kristin and I met and about when we were dating. This enjoyment does not come from my kids desire to learn about courtship, but to hear again that mom and dad love each other, validating the bond our family has. These stories serve to increase feelings of security for each member of our family.

Stories reveal what a family wants to believe about itself. We love to tell stories of our kids climbing things at a young age because it reflects a family value of adventure and confidence in our abilities. Every family is selective about which stories get told again and again and which are quickly forgotten. The stories that are told speak loudly to children about what a family values and about its sense of identity.

Finally, stories communicate to others about our family. Rather than describe our families to others, we typically tell a story to try to capture the essence of who we are. My parents love to tell a story from my college days when my 2 brothers, a college-friend, myself and my parents had to fit 7 cars and a boat into our driveway each night. They love to emphasize how we squeezed 2 cars over here and crammed another car on the edge of the lawn over there and so on and so on. Today, the story sounds like a parking disaster and a neighborhood eyesore, but above all that, my parent’s version of the story demonstrates a love of having their boys home for the summer and the welcome addition of a “4th son”. This story served to describe our family’s priorities on family and home.

Telling and hearing stories is an enjoyable part of family life. Stories have power that goes well beyond simply entertaining children. That being said, we are still keeping the books!

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