Writing your family’s stories is one of the tasks of grandparents that will “pay off” for the grandchild, the others in the family, and for the storyteller, in a great many and often unexpected ways. We are most familiar with the type of storytelling that happens with young children in those “snuggle” moments, and we have an article in this section on that topic.

Family Stories are most certainly important for young grandchildren, but there are a variety of other goals that we encourage grandparents to explore. Stories are the vehicle that describes family membership and membership is a large part of our identity.  Knowledge of our history is the owner’s manual that gives membership to all ages. It has always been the job of the elders to pass on the stories to the next generations. With how scattered our modern families are, this is an even more important role.

Here are some of the goals that people find as they work on their family stories.

1.    Connect with others, especially younger children, by telling stories about them or from some episode in their life.

2.    Preserve family history: who, where, when and what?

3.    Preserve and communicate the family’s strengths and values. This is a way to teach about those values. It is also a way to help younger generations internalize self-worth, increase resiliency and build self-esteem.

4.    Understand the meaning of mistakes and problems that have been part of the family’s history, because understanding contributes toward healing residual pain.

5.    Explore and describe the “place” and “times” where various generations of the family have lived, which increases the sense of understanding and ability to feel you belong.

6.    Connect, because through stories, family members become better known to each other, a necessary prerequisite, which in turn contributes to the development of a healthy identify in younger members.

7.    Provide a possible way to reach insight about “who you are” based on who and where you’re connected.

8.    Sort through in order to find meaning in the events and relationships being written about.

9.    Finish unfinished business. It is necessary that each person feels “heard” and “understood” or parts of life remain unfinished and family stories are a vehicle toward that goal.

Writing your family stories (or in the past, telling those stories), was one of the first forms of therapy. Writing family stories was (and still is) the traditional method of “friending” now so popular on Facebook.Writing Family Stories is the more personal version of LinkedIn. Family Stories are the original social network.

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