I believe that one of the greatest contributors to disconnection from our children today is technology. I feel it is has somewhat replaced one of our most cherished threads of bonding in families, the art of storytelling.
The origins of storytelling are ancient and lost in the mist of time. I imagine one of the first stories told was perhaps around a flickering fire in the gloomy recess of a cave. Maybe a primitive hunter told his family of his successful hunt as they devoured the game that he brought home? Or, more likely, he told of how courageously he fought when a terrible animal tried to steal his kill, adding a little imaginative details to convince his hungry family that he had done all he could but was foiled by cruel fate?
The power of the story has been with us for eons and has definitely taken a back seat in the homes of many families today.
As Waldorf home schoolers for many years, and igniting our creative story telling fires from within, my husband Steven and I realized how much this lost art, brought back into our own home, established a deeper heart connection with our daughters Sophie and Sadie. They also still enjoy hearing stories about our own childhood, youth, and our adult single years.
One of my greatest joys as a mother has been centered around bedtime. Those first precious years of lighting the candle, singing the songs, telling our fairy tale and reciting our favorite bedtime verse are memories I will cherish forever.
As our first daughter Sophie reached about four years of age, my husband Steven and I began taking turns with an occasional alternative form of story telling at bedtime. Jammies were on, teeth were brushed and she anxiously waited on her bed for this weekly ritual.
We didn’t start entirely from scratch. Sophie helped us a little with her own creative expression. Each time we asked her to give us three magical objects and slip them into the pockets of our storytelling cloak, where we would then creatively weave them into the story. The more random they were the better. I don’t take credit for this style of storytelling. It was given to me from a fellow Waldorf home schooling mother, and is a great way to involve especially a young child in the creative process, as well as make for some very unusual, and inspiring stories.
When our second daughter, Sadie, was around three years of age we began also to include her in the process and asked her for three objects as well. Being over five years apart in age made for some diversity with the objects, and a total of six random objects was about my limit as far as memory was concerned. On some nights when the creativity was waning, or the fatigue waxing, I had to cheat and write them down! So I suggest if you have three or four fairly young children you may want them to contribute only one or two objects each.
Sometimes I really missed the mark. I would watch the girls as I grasped for a thread or struggled to find some humor, their faces blank, especially as Sophie grew older and more discerning. Other times, however, I felt like Hemingway, or Mark Twain, with the words just pouring from my mind and my daughters’ eyes riveted to mine. On several occasions I was so impressed by my stories that I could barely finish them because of my tears.
There were stories of death, courage, love, and stories of mystical, magical enchantment that had my girls hanging on the edge of every word. There were even stories of humor that would take them to a place of kicking their legs in hysteria. There were words like baby stroller, bunny, the sun, gnome, semi-truck and fairy all in the same story.
There were times when it took me nearly ten minutes to begin my story and times when I began with great authority in only 30 seconds.
Those fifteen to thirty minutes with my daughters were precious times. They fueled my creativity and allowed me to connect with them from the heart. Although reading to our children can be a wonderful time as well, telling a story, whether it be fictional or something from our past, bonds us together like an epoxy glue made from love. Story time honors our Spirit by allowing It to flow into the hearts of others.
What greater time than now to tell your children a story! Whether they’re two or eighteen, there is a story within you that they will connect with. There is a story about a special Christmas you experienced, a story about a time you really struggled, or there’s a story that you’ll create from three simple objects.
Whether story time is at bedtime, midday, or around the campfire, it matters not. Stories, face to face, heart to heart, are a powerful antidote to the disease of disconnection. In this day of texting, video games and computers, where children may be feeling more disconnected, stories deserve more than ever to find a place in the home, from your heart, and into theirs.
Share your stories TODAY. Your children will become more attentive, more connected, and more creative, as will you! You will begin a foundation of love and connection in the family that will be with you forever.The recent attraction and draw of technology will NEVER replace the connection established with a mother’s or father’s gift of the story.
Want your child to thrive? Give yourself to them, and find the time to spread your love, attention and your creativity through stories, and you’ll be amazed at the heart connections you will strengthen.
Steven and Cynthia Wand have been Waldorf homeschoolers and are the authors of Living The Heart Life… Letting Go of the Hard Life. They offer transformational mentoring/coaching in the area of relationships and parenting. Visit http://www.livingtheheartlife.com to sign up for their free Love Notes Newsletter.