How sharing stories helps families grow closer together

Post by
Scott Bair
How sharing stories helps families grow closer together

Heard any good stories lately?  Probably.  Who hasn’t?  Wherever we go, whatever we do, whatever we watch - we love a good story. And if a story starts out good, we listen for more.

The fact is a good story is more than just solid entertainment.  It actually has good physical and psychological benefits.  Seriously!  That’s not just some story.

Research shows that storytelling has a way of bonding us with those around us. It’s part of the reason why we all laugh or scream or gasp when we watch a movie with a large throng of people.

The scientific fact is when we hear a good story, our brains create a hormone that literally helps us to feel other people’s emotions.  Amazing, isn’t it?

Now let’s imagine the natural bond that exists between family members.  You bond because you’re related.  But sometimes, that’s about all you have in common.  Sometimes that’s the only reason you want to bond.  But then there are the stories.  The stories of your lives together, the things that have happened, the people you know.  Suddenly, storytelling among family members becomes invaluable.

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How Storytelling Brings People Closer Together

Coming together as a family to tell and listen to stories is good, wholesome fun. But in our fast-paced world, who’s got time for family gatherings?

But families should take time out to tell stories. Not only because storytelling is a great way to create memories and have fun, but because storytelling leaves us with a connection that goes beyond those memories.

It makes up for all those lost holidays spent apart.  Or the ones spent together that you wish were spent apart.

The empathy and bond created as stories are shared fosters a sense of mutual understanding which lasts even after storytime is over and everyone has gone their separate ways.

But what if you can’t think of a good story to tell?  Or what if you’re just not a good storyteller?  What if you’re one of those people who, when you tell a joke, you just don’t have the patience to set up the punchline so you just blurt it out?

Well, one good place to start is by telling stories about family history. Family history stories are particularly effective in building strong bonds between parents and children. The story doesn’t have to be about the time that Mom saved the world or Dad beat up Darth Vader, and you don’t have to be an expert storyteller.

Not sure where to start?  Looking for ideas of family history stories to tell a child or children? You could start with stories about their grandparents or the childhood of their parents.

You could always go with the classic of how their parents met (assuming you know or are actually one of their parents).  

If you’re still struggling with finding the story, you can turn to a prop.  An old photograph, gift, or family memorabilia is a great place to find that hidden gem of a story. We at TimeWell think that looking at photos are the best ways to recall a flood of memories. Whether you prefer to look at physical photo albums or record their voices with our online app, you’re guaranteed to learn great things. Sign up for TimeWell today!

But don’t feel that you only have to tell the feel-good stories with great endings.  You have full permission to tell the one about when Grandpa got so drunk at the zoo that he got arrested for trying to climb into the gorilla habitat.  Those stories are just as important, particularly when it comes to teaching kids not to rile up gorillas.

The positive effects of telling stories about your family history go beyond fostering familial bonds. According to research, people with knowledge of their family history have higher self-esteem, lower anxiety, depression, anger, and aggression, as well as a better sense of control over their lives.

Recommended Questions to Ask Family Members

Telling children stories helps to build their communication skills as well as their own abilities to tell stories. But storytelling shouldn’t always be one-sided. All members – including children – should be encouraged to share a story or to participate in the story being told.

One way to encourage family members to participate is by asking questions, such as:

  • What was it like growing up in [name of place] or with [name of person or people]?
  • What did you learn from [an experience, a person]?
  • Can you describe a significant [event, person, place]?
  • How did you meet [name of person]?
  • Why did you make [a particular decision]? Did you have any regrets? Or what would you have done differently?

There’s no better time to start building strong family bonds than now, and storytelling is an easy way to make powerful connections. So grab a seat near a family member or loved one, and tell your story or listen to the one that they’ve got.  But keep Grandpa away from the zoo.

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