We all know how important communication is in parenting. As a parent, you will have to speak to your child about some tough topics. Parents need to guide their children and adolescents as they find their way in life, but this guidance doesn’t always have to take the form of telling them what to do. An important way in which you can mentor your child is by sharing your own life experiences with them.
In my previous article, I looked at the importance of story-telling in parenting and showed how telling your own stories to your child helps to build your relationship, captivates their attention, prepares your child for stressful situations, and provides a way of transmitting wisdom to them which will help them to build their own worldview. In this article, I continue this discussion by showing how stories enable your child to see you as you truly are, how they build a foundation for a later friendship, and how they can provide your child with a sense of belonging and identity.
Stories Show the Genuine You
By telling your stories you enable your child to see you as you really are. This will leave you looking less than perfect and may sound counterintuitive at first. We humans spend a lot of time and effort hiding our flaws and mistakes from the world. We hide our shame from our relatives, our spouses, and even from ourselves. Telling stories about yourself teaches a young person that it’s ok to be genuine. It helps them to see that they don’t have to hide themselves or pretend to be something they aren’t. You really don’t want to convince your child that you are flawless! Yet this is what they will come to expect of you if you only ever correct them and never share your own learning experiences with them.
Sharing your experiences of life with your child will give them the freedom to feel the same things as they grow up. They need to know about being hurt, being truly happy, and making mistakes. You can help them to see that relationships are truly wonderful and yet also really complex – that they are hard but worth the effort. You can help your children by telling them what it is like to cry, to be scared, to have imperfect parents whom you nevertheless respect, and what it’s like to be married or to raise kids. Sharing with your children in this way is a tremendous ministry, for through this story-telling you help your children to become more fully human.
Stories Enable You to Become Friends with Your Child
At an even deeper level, developing such a relationship with your child will help you to someday turn this relationship into a friendship. By enabling your children to know you as the person you are, they come to know you as a friend would know you. This provides the foundation for a future friendship.
Stories Provide a Sense of Belonging
At the deepest level, telling your stories provides your children with a sense of identity and a bond to those with whom they feel they belong. Providing such a sense of legacy and kinship to your children is a valuable gift—think of the poetic connotations in the word “kin.” Even if your story is full of greater or smaller mistakes, it is still important to pass it on to your children. Indeed, knowing a parent’s stories enables a child to develop the sense of power needed to rewrite their own life. It helps them to learn “the easy way.”
Christian Counseling Can Help You to Tell Your Stories
Stories help persons of all ages to define and discover who they are. Knowing your own stories will help you to know who you are, and telling your stories to your children helps both you and them. Telling stories is a healing activity and because of this therapeutic value, much of my work as a Christian counselor involves bringing family stories to light and helping clients to integrate these stories in their lives. Christian counseling is designed to help individuals and families gain personal insight and a strengthened sense of identity.
“Gorgeous Mother Holding Her Beautiful Daughter In Arms” by stock images at freedigitalphotos.net. “Silhouette Family” by arztsamui. at freedigitalphotos.net.