Recently my granddaughter who lives in North Carolina started first grade virtually. She was telling me how her online school works. She seems to like it well enough, but she’d rather go to school. As we were talking, she asked, “Did you go to school, Grandma?”
“Yes, Grandma went to school but school for Grandma was very different!” which brought the conversation around to Grandma’s school days. Since she reads well and is quite computer literate, she recently got an email address. We agreed that I would write a short story daily telling her all about my school days. The daily story telling has begun. Each day I develop a story around a theme such as getting to school, recess, lunchtime, celebrating holidays, a typical school day, my classmates, etc. When I can, I try to add old photos that help tell the story. Since I attended grade school in a rural Nebraska one-room school, I am sure she must think I grew up with the dinosaurs!
While writing these little stories have been a trip down memory lane for me, psychologist suggest that sharing our stories with our grandchildren is an irreplaceable gift. Researcher, Marshall P. Duke from Emory University has discovered that this shared information nurtures children emotionally and psychologically. Duke writes, “research shows that children who know a lot about their family tend to be more resilient with higher levels of self-esteem, more self-control, better family functioning, lower levels of anxiety, fewer behavioral problems, and better chances for good outcomes when faced with challenges.” As we know these qualities are important for success in life.
So grandparents, tell your story. Tell them about what life was like when you were growing up. Tell them about the silly things you did. Tell them about their parents growing up. The stories can be written or shared verbally or told in drawings or pictures–anyway that you can express yourself. All you need is love for your grandchildren and family and desire to open yourself up and invite them to enter your world. If you don’t live nearby, get creative with Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, email, journals, or even old-fashioned letters. Sharing stories will melt the distance into nothingness.
For more information on the value of sharing stories see HOW FAMILY STORIES CAN STRENGTHEN AND UNITE.