Family Stories: Why We Tell Them

Posted by on Jan 30, 2016 in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Saving Family Stories Now & Into the Future

family stories

What if I told you that you could change a child’s life by sharing your family stories? Would you move into action? Would it inspire you to start documenting that which you know about your own life and the people who came before you?

Sometimes when I talk to people about life legacy storytelling, the question comes up; why should I share my family stories? As a part of our human make-up, we often don’t know or understand the value of something until it’s gone. In the instance of family stories, “too late” happens all the time. Often because a storyteller is no longer able to impart the tales they’d been spinning and telling anyone who would listen over the years. They pass away or become ill in such a way they’re no longer able to communicate. Those precious gems that are their stories, forever lost.

The people who hire me to help document their family stories have quite often experienced some kind of lost opportunity to record a loved ones’ story. That storyteller may be gone, but they know they can still capture and share family stories from the ones still here who are able to communicate.

childhood amnesiaRecent happiness research has proved that children who know their family narrative are happier and more resilient than children who don’t. We owe it to our future generations to document these family stories.

So how does one go about this activity of documenting family stories? What’s the best medium? When is the best time? I’ll tell you. Right now. The beauty of documenting family stories to be shared now or one day in the future is that as our children grow and mature, they develop a listening and a context in which they hear our stories in a way they may not be available for when we ourselves are inspired to tell them!

When I was seventeen years old, my mom could have told about me the struggles of raising two kids on her own, working hard at a temporary job she was uncertain she’d have in a month and how scary that was for her. At seventeen, I had no idea what she was talking about. No frame of reference to be able to relate to her story. But hearing that story again, at 35, after having raised a child myself and having experienced uncertainty in my professional life, it generates an entirely different context for my listening and an new understanding of who my mom was when I was growing up and how resilient and committed she was to make sure her kids had what they needed to get along in this world. I can know her, love her and admire her in a brand new light.

Our children look to us for guidance, learning, hope and security. For the whole of their lives. As they themselves grow into adulthood, they long to know who we really were at their same age. What greater gift than to give them ourselves, to let them know us and have us, when they’re ready to know, when they are available to receive and understand all that we are always offering?

download the storycatcher for iphone app here; video storytelling; April Bell; storytelling; family history ; legacy; life story; video biography; genealogyMy friend Elizabeth, whom I recorded a video biography with, is further expanding her collection of stories and has embarked on a journey called, “My Life In Paragraphs.” You might consider using the video storytelling app StoryCatcher, and create a collection of short videos telling about your experiences, lessons, values and hopes. You may feel most comfortable expressing yourself in writing or via an audio only format, which can easily be done any time, any where using a smart phone. We’re working on adding and audio only capability to StoryCatcher, too!

Share when you’re inspired to. Create a little collection, or even a big one. Post your stories to your social media pages. Do it on your own or consult a professional for help and guidance. Be sure to save your data in two places. Tell at least one person you trust where it is. It’s the greatest gift you will ever leave behind. I promise you that.

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