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Susan Adcox

It's Up to Grandparents to Continue the Tradition of Storytelling

By April 24, 2012

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One of my most treasured memories is of lying with my sister in my grandmother's bed and listening to Grannie's stories of her childhood. We heard about the brother who loved to tease her, about the cornhusk dolls she treasured, even about the tragedies that befell her family. At my other grandparents' house, we sat spellbound by tales of wampus cats and coon hunts.

A new study reports that one-third of children don't want to hear their grandparents' stories. That's good news and bad news, because it means that two-thirds of them are eager to listen. Still, I think that grandparents should try to win over the other third.

Some people are natural storytellers. The rest of us may need these pointers:

  • Don't get bogged down in details like dates. The grandkids want to know what happened. They don't care much about the rest.
  • Do add colorful details. The grands won't care whether it happened in 1950 or 1951, but they will want to know that the snow was six feet deep or that the sleek bay was the fastest horse in the county.
  • Don't avoid the dramatic events. Don't exhume any family skeletons, but don't leave out deaths and disasters, which fascinate most kids.
  • Create prime storytelling opportunities. Stories just go with sitting on a porch, snuggling in a bed or gathering around a campfire.
  • Be a good listener. Grandchildren have stories to tell as well.

In your experience, what creates a story that grandchildren will listen to?

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More About Preserving Family Traditions:

April 24, 2012 at 11:08 am
(1) Matthew says:

Grandparents always have the best stories. If you don’t have your own grandparents anymore, go borrow a friend’s

April 24, 2012 at 9:32 pm
(2) Grandma Kc says:

Amara loves to hear stories about my past but even better is stories about her Mommy and Daddy. She loves hearing about what they were like when they were younger and about life before she was born. I love sharing stuff with her.

April 24, 2012 at 11:31 pm
(3) connie says:

I loved hearing my parents and grandparents stories about their childhoods! Wish I had written them down! My oldest grand daughter, who just turned 6, also loves hearing about my childhood. And I love telling her! It has given me an idea too, I need to write them down!

April 25, 2012 at 2:38 am
(4) Sukhmandir Kaur says:

I remember almost word for word stories my mother father and grandmother told me as a child about their own childhood and about their parents and grandparents.
My 3 year old granddaughter has a week old baby brother that she has to share mommy and daddy with. She loves when I tell stories about how tiny she was when she was born just like baby brother and how tiny my baby -her mommy- was when she was born just like her and her baby brother. It really gets her attention when I put her in the story too and makes her feel excited that she is still important even though her life has changed having a sibling to share her parents with. She is squeezing into the little pink tub at bathtime that came from the hospital after her birth. I have been telling her how we bathed her in it as a new born and how her baby brother will be bathing in in another week or so when his cord heals.

April 27, 2012 at 8:21 pm
(5) Mimi says:

I also have enjoyed my grandparent’s and my parent’s stories and when my two grandsons, ages two and four, are older, I hope they enjoy mine also. What grandparents need to remember is the particular stories they have told – over and over. Try to think back and remember different stories that span your whole life, not just those four or five memorable events! Most stories are interesting the first time, but not the fiftieth, so keep those brain cells active, find the photos that add the details and get to storytelling.

When it comes to repeating the stories of how you were there the first night of your grandchild’s life, now those stories can be repeated to your grandchildren forever!

April 30, 2012 at 11:49 am
(6) Mark says:

I have to remind myself about the importance of recording (video or audio) great-grandparents and grandparents telling their stories. Once those precious family members pass, their stories can be passed to generations yet unborn. I now need to heed my own advice and set up sessions…

April 30, 2012 at 9:27 pm
(7) Tina says:

These are great tips to story-telling. Thanks for sharing. Another idea for grandparents who live far from their grandkids is to tell stories over the phone or Skype, or use social media online. I work for a company that created an app to connect kids and grandparents. You can both write stories together, and also draw pictures, exchange photos and record voice. It’s a great way to add more dimension to a story and further engage grandchildren. You can try it at http://www.doublescoop.net.

May 14, 2012 at 3:58 pm
(8) Rosemary says:

Great post! My grandchildren love stories about how their mummy and daddy were naughty when they were little and of course there are quite a few I can tell, like the time they both fell into the canal with their bikes or painted double yellow lines on the road outside our house (in the UK that means that you can’t park there). I should take up telling stories about myself too. If anyone wants stories to tell their grandchildren, try my site, http:// http://www.grandmasfootsteps.com where I post a new story to tell to grandchildren each week. Best wishes, Rosemary

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