Ryan Ponsford

Save your kids; share your stories!

Growing up, our family holidays and events were the times when we reflected on and shared the many experiences and adventures we’d had as a family.  As a kid, many of the stories were about relatives that I hadn’t event met, crazy things people had done long before I came into the picture.  There were endless stories of the camps my grandparents ran, the crazy things my Uncle Verne would pull off, last minute adventures pulled off by my Mom, and of course the story of Grandma Dotty’s dream to own a live elephant, which she eventually did (obviously a lengthy story in itself!).

Throughout all of these stories, there was a trend.  They weren’t all stories of amazing success or accomplishments; in fact, many were lessons in defeat, survival, and sheer determination.  In all cases, it was the resilience and unending faith of the characters that defined the outcomes.  On occasion, my grandfather would share his stories from WWII.  Or when my grandmother spoke of being at the side of four of her five children when they passed into forever, she spoke of it as an honor.  As she shared,

“I was there when they came into the world,

and I was blessed to be there when they left the world.”

As kids, we don’t necessarily know the impact that these stories and times together will have on our lives, but it turns out, their importance is of significance.

I recently read an article that was shared by a good friend and colleague, Scott Farnsworth.

(Scott is a master of story, so if there’s someone who understands the power and impact of story, it’s Scott.)  They article was written about the results of a study that was done among kids – examining those that had an upbringing in which stories were shared and cherished, and those did not have the same experience with stories.  (You can read the entire article here.)  

 In short, they found that kids that knew the stories of their families – how their parents met, where their grandparents were from, failures or illnesses in the family; these kids had an overwhelmingly stronger sense of control over their lives, higher self esteem, and far better ability to handle stress.

They also made the correlation to businesses; those that knew the story of the heritage of the business, it’s origin, the challenges, successes, and failures, were also far more likely to succeed over time.

So often, it’s our commitment to survive and to thrive, ultimately our resilience that determines our outcomes.  As I’ve shared in the past; there’s a formula that I like to share; especially with young adults.  I didn’t come up with this and am not sure who did, but it’s worth sharing: 

E+R=O

where,

EVENT + RESPONSE = OUTCOME

 Think about the events that occur – especially the challenging ones.  We often can’t control the event, but we can certainly control how we respond to the event; and it’s this response that determines our outcome.  

When my grandmother told the story of her dream to own a live elephant, the headwinds she faced, then ultimately the achievement of her dream, we were instilled with a belief that there’s no dream too large we can’t achieve.  When she experienced the death of four of her five children, she very easily could have responded very negatively.  She didn’t.  She overcame and became an example of resilience to her entire family, many grandkids, nieces and nephews.

So, as a parent, don’t we all want the best possible outcomes for our children?  Don’t we want them to be resilient, confident, and capable of overcoming great challenges?  I know I want that for my three children!  So how do we get that?

 It turns out it’s not that difficult and like most great things, there’s no financial requirement.  We simply need to tell and retell our family stories, and we need to create some new ones.  There is, however, a required investment from each of us.  The investment is time.  The investment is to be intentional and purposeful about creating the space and opportunity to share these stories.  The investment is that this holiday season we may need to sit at the table a little longer, don’t rush to do the dishes, don’t escort grandma and grandpa out of the house, don’t allow your kids to sit on the couch lost in their new electronic worlds; at least not while the family is together sharing stories.  

Let’s make this the Most Wonderful Time of the Year by making an investment in the future of our kids.  Let’s impact them with stories about our family history, adventures, challenges and victories.  

They’re depending on us to prepare them for the world,

this holiday season may be our greatest opportunity.  

Don’t miss it!