Do you worry about influences on your kids, grandkids, and great-grands?—influences that lure them away from your best hopes and dreams and prayers for them?
Less-than-stellar influencers bombard today’s young people, enticing them to live and believe in ways that could diminish them morally, spiritually, personally, mentally, and relationally.
Today’s kids are listening to the stories of movie stars, singers, comedians, the press, educators, athletes, politicians, authors, friends, and paranormal characters in books and movies.
If you worry about the stories your kids, grandkids, and great-grands listen to, how about telling them your stories?
There’s a good reason the Bible is full of stories. There’s a good reason Jesus told parables.
Kathy Edens writes, “Research proves that stories and anecdotes help people retain information better. Forbes reported most people only remember about 5-10% of statistics you cite. But when you accompany your stats with a story, the retention rate bounces up to 65-70%.”
Wow! Did you know that? That’s impressive.
If you want to teach your grandkids the importance of telling the truth, for example, you can say to them, “It’s important to always tell the truth, and you can get yourself into tons of trouble if you lie,” but your words will probably go in one ear and out the other.
OR, you can tell them a story—a story of how you, or someone you know, learned the importance of honesty, and the consequences of dishonesty.
Your stories can teach your kids, grandkids, and great-grands so many important things—about keeping a commitment, being faithful, working hard, being kind.
Your stories can teach them to handle tragedies with tenacity and faith.
Your stories can help them choose courage over fear, generosity over stinginess, compassion over meanness, thankfulness over ingratitude, and so much more.
“The world’s greatest wisdom passes through stories,” writes Kathy Edens.
Think about this:
The world’s greatest wisdom
can flow through your stories!
If you’re still not convinced of your stories’ importance, here’s something else for you. It’s staggering, really.
In fact, this is a big deal.
In his New York Times article, “The Stories that Bind Us,” Bruce Feiler explores, from a secular perspective, what makes families healthy, resilient, happy, and functional.
He writes that Dr. Sara Duke, a psychologist working with children, discovered that while all families have struggles, “The [kids] who know a lot about their families tend to do better when they face challenges,” she says.
Fascinated with Dr. Sara’s findings, her husband, Marshall, also a psychologist, and his colleague, Robyn Fuvish, did their own research on how much individual kids knew stories of their family’s history and its members—parents and grandparents, for example—and how much they knew of their family’s struggles as well as its triumphs.
They came to what Feiler calls “an overwhelming conclusion: The more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their own lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believed their families functioned.”
Shortly after that research, the United States experienced the attack on September 11, 2001, and Dr. Duke and his team checked again on the children they’d studied. None was directly impacted by the terrorist attack yet each one, like the rest of us, still suffered trauma. Nevertheless, “Once again…,” Dr. Duke found, “the ones who knew more about their families proved to be more resilient, meaning they could moderate the effects of stress.”
Don’t miss the rest of Feiler’s article, “The Stories that Bind Us.” You’ll find that youngsters who felt the most connected to their families—through stories of both ups and downs, and of their determination to survive and thrive—were the kids who could handle challenges and overcome obstacles in healthy ways.
There’s a good reason Jesus said,
“Go tell your family everything God has done for you”
That means you need to tell your stories!
And this is important: Avoid writing stories that are dry. Or dreary. Or preachy—avoid a “holier-than-thou” attitude.
DO write stories that include humor, adventure, mystery, romance, pets, childhood escapades, teenage pranks, athletic competitions—the list could go on and on.
“We are storytellers,” writes Carolina Hinojosa-Cisneros. “With the help of God, it is up to us to steward our calling and steward it well.”
Think about this:
What stories have been entrusted to you?
And perhaps even more important: Who has God entrusted to you?
And are you stewarding them—caring for them—to the very best of your ability?
“…Everyone needs writers—
every child, every woman, every man—
to bring out these hidden truths
that lie dormant in us and help them
live what truly matters in life.
Writers have all got to work hard
at this occupation—
for the glory of people
and our most cherished beliefs and ideas.
To fight to ignore all the distractions
and take the time to share our stories
and unpack their meaning and messages….
It’s the most important job in the world.”
Be good stewards of your experiences and stories.
Do what Jesus said: Go tell your family all God has done for you.