Bridging the Generation Gap with Storytelling

You’ve probably heard it a hundred times, read the poster and seen the t-shirt – “If I’d known grandchildren were so much fun, I’d have had them first.”  My children changed my life forever making it better; however, grandchildren provide an additional richness that I never imagined. What made the difference? Perhaps more stability and/or being more settled in who we are. We have a different confidence now allowing us be present and fully enjoy times spent together with both young & old.

Long before written histories, ballads and storytellers held audiences in rapt attention as tales both true and fictional were delivered. The same holds true today as families and communities are brought together around kitchen tables, in front rooms or around campfires. One story leads to another and soon everyone is creating and/or sharing stories.  The tales may change a bit over time as they are embellished and become living entities. You feel like you were there and part of it even when it happened to someone else.

One of the special gifts in my life is a friend who taught me to laugh at what I thought were life’s serious moments.  Her family has many of them; however, during their early days together as a couple every incident became a story even an out of balance washing machine that led to both her husband and her falling down the basement stairs. Life becomes what we make it and failing to share our stories may rob future generations of the joy of laughter and some valuable lessons.

It is interesting to know that somewhere from 60 – 90% of communication is nonverbal, yet so little time is spent learning to “listen” or “read” body language, hand gestures and the tone of what is being shared. Being present requires us to become good listeners using skill and discipline to capture the moment.  What a gift such a skill would become to future generations.

My grandsons want to know the stories of their moms, dads, aunts and uncles growing up. Even more fascinating to them are the stories of when I was a little girl. They have difficulty imagining it,  so we bring out the pictures.  They ask questions that provide wonderful platforms for sharing their heritage. I love hearing younger generations share or request a specific story.  Fortunately, it is never too late to have a second childhood. If we missed out as a child or with our children, we are given another opportunity with our grandchildren.

I encourage you to put aside anything that hinders your ability to connect and share your true fun loving self with others. We shape not only our future but future generations through our words and actions.

How are you shaping your world?

Originally published in my Shaken & Stirred column in The Newsy Neighbour – January 2014

photo credit: paul bica via photopin cc