You Need to Share Your Stories with the Next Generation
By Rachel Schmoyer
What I treasure most from my parents and grandparents is not the things that I have been given, but the stories of their lives.
I treasure the stories of my father’s time in the polio ward and his subsequent hospital stays to fix his legs and back. I like to hear of the record collection he amassed since flipping records is about all he could do in a Stryker frame.
I treasure the stories of my mother’s time as a seminary student in the late 1970’s. I admire the courage she had as one of only two women on campus.
I treasure the story of how my paternal grandparents met during World War II through a misdirected love letter.
I treasure the stories of my maternal grandparents working together as volunteer first responders. My grandfather was a fireman and my grandmother was an ambulance driver.
If you bumped into my parents or grandparents on the street, you may not think that they are anybody special. I suppose they aren’t; not really. They aren’t famous or particularly successful the way success is traditionally defined. But I am so thankful that they shared their stories anyway.
You may not think that your stories are worth telling, but they still need to be told. The next generation needs your story.
Here’s why the next generation needs your stories:
To form a sense of identity
Part of life is figuring out who you are and family is a big part of that. Each family has different roots that are unique to that family. You are the roots of the next generation. Your stories are part of their story. Share your stories so the next generation can knowledgably form who they are.
They are not mind readers
Your family will not know your stories unless you tell them. Sometimes we forget when an event or a conversation brings up a memory that others do not have the same memory that we have. Even if your family member witnessed the same event, your memories will be different.
To foster empathy
When my brother and my sister and I reminisce together, I am surprised that we all walked away from the same event with different memories and with very different feelings. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of the same events that were disappointments to my sister. I never would have known this unless we spent time sharing our memories. Hearing her feelings on the memories give me practice in empathy—to think things through in another person’s shoes.
To support one another
When there has been a death in the family or there has been a hard time, sharing memories together can help you all know that you are not alone. You can grieve together and remember together. My aunts and cousins and I experienced this after the sudden death of my grandmother. We shared stories together while cleaning out her house and sorting through so many things that brought back floods of memories.
To navigate change
You are different now than when you were young. I’m not just talking about wrinkles and gray hair. You are older, but you are also wiser. You have learned from your mistakes and have grown in character. When you are sharing your stories, share the good and the bad. Sharing how you used to be compared to who you are now gives hope to the next generation. You are living proof that a person can change.
Tell your stories. Tell them again and again. Repetition helps them stick! The next generation needs your stories.
Do you share your stories with your children or grandchildren? Why is sharing your stories important to you? Comment below!
About the Author
Rachel Schmoyer is a pastor’s wife and mom of four. She blogs about finding simple truths in complex passages of Scripture at Read the Hard Parts. She also writes about parenting and other adventures at Rachel Schmoyer Writes. If she is not writing, she is probably reading, most likely a biography of one of the First Ladies of the United States.
You can connect with Rachel online on Twitter.
You can read Rachel's "Family Life" column on the 4th Monday each month here at Pandora's Box Gazette.