Written by Deborah Haddix, Resource Director, Christian Grandparenting Network
It’s been nearly ten years since my dad passed away, and even now, many precious and treasured memories from that time are stored in my heart.
One such memory emanates from the planning of his funeral. As we sat together, sharing memories and nailing down details, my grown children (all parents themselves) insisted that some of Grandpa’s stories be included in the service. They wanted others to hear them. They needed to hear them.
My dad was a remarkable storyteller mesmerizing all who gathered around with his captivating stories, every chance he got. Some stories brought us face-to-face with relatives who had lived long before our time. Ones we would never have the opportunity to meet.
Other stories introduced us to his childhood and provided glimpses into a way of life we would never know otherwise. And others still, of a young man who moved to the city, got married, and raised a family, helped us better know the one we called Grandpa.
As enjoyable as they were, my dad’s stories served an important purpose.
Even while hearing my examples, you may be wondering about the value of sharing your own family stories with your grandchildren.
The fact that your family history doesn’t include any famous names or significant historical events may have you feeling that your story is a bit lackluster and not worth telling. May I say right here, “Tell it anyway!”
Through your family stories, your grandchildren are linked to relatives they otherwise could not know. They learn who they are and where they came from. As well, their views of themselves are formed and confidence grows as they discover their roots and history.
Through the passing of family ethics and values, your stories help your grandchildren develop a sense of belonging and family pride.
Your stories have value because your grandchildren need to know about their parents and grandparents, accidents and illnesses, education, experiences, employment, and faith traditions.
They also need to know what it was like growing up without cell phones and computers, why you got married, and what it was like being a parent to their mothers and fathers.
Share stories about your life and make sure they include childhood memories and teenage experiences. For it is these stories that offer glimpses to your grandchildren about who you are and who you were, building connection and solidifying a sense of belonging.
Family history, no matter how exciting you feel it may or may not be, helps your grandchildren develop a sense of identity, and this is important. But an even deeper value lies beneath the surface of your stories.
Your family stories are a vessel for declaring the wondrous works of God.
They supply your grandchildren with direction and inspiration found among the role models they will never have an opportunity to meet. And they provide a wonderful way for your grandchildren to see how God has worked in your family throughout the generations bringing you to where you are today.
Ideas for Sharing Your Family Stories
My dad loved to spin a story – around the dinner table, relaxing in lawn chairs on a summer evening, or gathering for a family reunion. All he needed was an excuse.
On the other hand, you may not be a natural-born storyteller. That’s okay. There are many fun and creative ways for telling your story.
- Enlist your grandchildren in helping you make a family tree. Free templates and ideas can be found on the internet.
- Introduce your grandchildren to family history apps.
- Gather all your treasured memories in one place by uploading stories, videos, and photos to a family memories app.
- Visit a family cemetery.
- Take a family vacation to a place of family memories.
- Weave “remembering” moments into your family rhythm.
- Create a family Facebook group where information and stories can be collected and shared.
- When your grandchildren are visiting, make a family recipe together and talk about its history.
- Publish a cookbook of family recipes.
- Construct a family history timeline.
- Interview your grandchildren and let them interview you. Consider capturing your interviews on audio or video.
- Invite family members to a family blog where each can contribute by posting memories complete with photos and videos. Physically preserve your memories by publishing your blog as a printed book.
- Join a My Story group.
In the later years of his life, my dad began writing down his stories. We don’t have them all, but the few we have are precious gifts.
We must never forget that the command to tell our stories includes a written component. “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” – Deuteronomy 6:9
When our family stories include our spiritual history, their value becomes so much greater.
This is where My Story Groups are helpful. Many of us have the best of intentions but never seem to get down to the business of writing out our stories. My Story Groups were created for those who struggle to accomplish the undertaking on their own. The encouragement, inspiration, and support found in a My Story community help grandparents complete the task of writing.
My Story Groups are designed to help Christians write their faith story and capture meaningful memories that will strengthen their children’s and grandchildren’s faith in Christ. For those who are interested and might find the benefits of a My Story group helpful, there is a My Story Guidebook available. This little book provides details about how to launch and lead a My Story Group.
Grandparents are a living bridge. Residing in that special place between our family’s past and its future, we are beautifully positioned to be the keepers of our family stories. Intimately connected with the two generations that preceded us and the two that follow, we are blessed with a remarkable, five-generation vista.
The stories and lessons of our lives need to be told. They are, indeed, priceless heirlooms for our grandchildren.