We all know that the fish in a story is never as big as the storyteller says it is—unless there’s a picture to prove it. But storytelling is something your parents are probably great at—and they have many stories to share.
If your parents are living with you during the pandemic, now is the PERFECT TIME for them to gather the family around and share. Grandparents are the keepers of family stories. They are a living bridge between past generations and future ones—think about it, they are at the center of five generations. Unfortunately, few families hold on to more than a couple of generations of these precious links to the past. Unless someone in the family tells the stories, they are tragically lost, and with it, a piece of the family’s soul and identity. Maintaining and passing on the family stories is a precious gift that grandparents can give to their grandchildren.
Let the Adventure—or Stories—Begin
Think about it. Grandparents are the perfect ones to tell your kids about the day their daddy was born—and how it was the most amazing day of their lives, even if he was all wrinkly and looked a bit like Yoda. They can share how purely magical it was when each of them was born.
I’ve heard it said—and absolutely agree—that grandparents can share a peek behind your family’s curtain in a way that only they can.
So get creative. There are lots of ways to do this. Here are a few of my favorites.
Great stories for your parents to tell include…
How they met, fell in love, and got married. Was it love at first sight? Did they get nervous before their first date? What was their wedding like?
What it was like going to school back “in the olden days.” What did they and their friends do? Were they in clubs or play sports? Did they ride the bus or walk to school? What was their favorite and least favorite subjects?
The day you were born and the day each of your children were born—minus the labor and birthing details. How did they feel becoming parents? And how much more special did it feel each time one of their grands was born?
What their parents and grandparents were like. What did they do?
What some of their favorite childhood memories are. What were their summers like? What things did they do? Did they have hobbies?
What their first job or their favorite job was. This could be especially interesting if they did something that is done very differently nowadays. What did they like about it? What were some of the important things they learned from it?
Other special events in your family’s history.
The Interview Game
Another fun and interactive way to have your parents share stories is to have your children interview them. You can incorporate it into a family night like described above, or it can be a great dinner conversation-starter. Last November, before the holidays (and long before the pandemic), my company, Aegis Living, posted 45 great (and sometimes silly) questions that your kids can ask your parents. Be sure to check out the full article, but here are a few of my favorite questions:
What did you want to be when you grew up?
How did your family spend time together when you were young?
What is the earliest memory that you have?
What is your favorite thing about being a grandparent?
What makes you happy?
Where have you traveled? What is your favorite city to visit? Do you have a favorite family vacation memory?
Would you rather be able to breathe underwater like a fish or fly like a bird?
If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
Would you rather play in the sand or play in the snow?
What is your favorite thing to do?
Caption This Picture
Another fun thing to do is grab the old photo albums (yours or your parents’) and have your parents pick a few pictures and tell the stories behind them. It’s fun if you can ask your kids to come up with a caption first before you tell the story. That gets them involved and is usually good for a few belly-laughs!
Capture Your History
You can do many other fun things to learn and share your family history while your parents are living with you. Compile with a family cookbook, with lots of family favorites, both old and new. Create a family tree; there are certainly plenty of genealogy resources online. You can also compile an electronic photo album of old family pictures. Make sure to record names, dates, locations, and short stories about the pics.
COVID-19 has certainly handed us all a bowl of lemons, but there are plenty of ways to make tasty lemonade from it. You probably weren’t expecting to have your parents living with you this year, but I hope you are making the absolute most of this special time together.
I also hope you’ve found this series of blogs on your parents living with you during the pandemic helpful. Next time, I’ll discuss how to set boundaries for happier parents and a happier you. It will be the last in the series, so you don’t want to miss it!
Until then, Live Well, Live Long, Wellness Warriors!