Many people are closed books; their stories are untold. Though they may be locked away in memories past, they are presently on display in every facet of one’s personality. Temperament, sense of humor, work ethic, reactions, values, are all just the iceberg’s tip, Beneath the surface there is so much more. And while this tragic phenomenon is worthy of unpacking in multi-book form, I instead just want to encourage you to tell your children Your Story.
When you are disciplining your children, tell them of similar sins that you committed. Relay to them how your parents reacted (for better or for worse) and that you are committed to loving and protecting them. This gives your children a personal history of correction to obedience that extends their perception beyond their present discomfort. They realize that everyone sins and that the goal is for them to be the next godly generation.
Talk as you cook and as you dine. Tell them how far back a particular recipe reaches into your family’s history. The conversation might turn to more stories of meals and gatherings past. The food on the table can serve up biographical reminders of relatives, tales of celebrations, and memories of holidays. Roast turkey, pasta marinara, cornbread, (perhaps even broccoli), have the potential to connect the present with the past and your children then can appreciate your timeline and their own.
When they get their first job, tell them about your experiences working with people that you didn’t know and bosses that were uptight or too easygoing. Share what you learned from others, by observation and from mistakes. Through these stories they will be taking you with them into the workplace; they will not be going in alone. At most every turn, whatever the situation, they will have already been briefed.
When they start planning to get out on their own, be it marriage, college, or vocation, it would be good for them to know what that transition was like for you. Sure, times have changed but godly character and purpose remain the same. Explaining your early struggles away from home for the first time as well as the things that you did to get established in church and community are footprints, your footprints, that they can follow.
For most children, money is just a means of impulsive gratification. As they grow into young adults who have never paid rent or had to keep a fridge and pantry stocked, they are in for that rude awakening of overspending and under-eating. Managing your finances is a series of life long decisions, good or bad. Who best to first tell your children about what works and what doesn’t? This is capital that they do not have to wait to earn. You owe them that.
An Old Story
Of course, as you tell your story, link your child’s story to yours and then both to the narratives given to us in the Scriptures. God gave the children of Israel the stories of their moms and dads so that they could “see” the good and the bad and act accordingly. The telling of personal stories for the edification of others was our heavenly Father’s idea. So open up to your children and open the Good Book. There is a lot of virtue in the stories of Scripture to emulate and a lot of family sin to avoid.
Have you shared some of your story with your kids? Tell us about it in the comments below.