Get closer to your kid with storytelling

In small groups we have been talking about drawing closer to God and last week we posted a tip on getting closer to your kids. Here is another one from the guys at written by youth & parent ministry guru Mark Oestreicher. Check out this little preview and then head over to their blog for the full article: 

...One of the practices we embrace in my family is storytelling around the dinner table. We have a no cell phones policy (which, these days, is less about taking phone calls than it is about texting or mobile Facebooking or other interruptions that take place just below the edge of the dinner table). We take turns telling low points and high points of our day. With each of these comes a story. We all learn about each others’ values, each others’ needs, each other's spiritual and emotional states. Often, a story of the day will bring out a “that reminds me of the story of that time…”, with a request or one family member or another to retell one of our arsenal of favorites. 

Here are some ideas for you to try:

  • Host intergenerational storytelling dinners. Instead of everyone bringing a dish to share, each person has to bring a story (or a few stories!) to share – real stories, not made-up stories. Give the categories ahead of time, just like you would for a potluck, and have them choose stories in 2 or 3 categories. Make sure you clear the date first with your teenager, because they’re who you really want there! Shoot for at least one person or couple from every generation. Allow for Q&A after each story.

  • Highs and Lows. Described above as a practice my family uses, have each family member, over a meal, share a story of a high point and a low point of their day. If you family is open to it, you can add an ancient prayer element to this practice by together noticing where God was present in both the high and low moments.

  • Letter writing. Yes, in these postmodern days, the art of writing snail mail seems almost ancient (especially to teenagers). But, particularly if your older relatives aren’t local to you, asking them to write out stories from their youth and young adult years can become family keepsakes.

  • Oral history recordings. Many teenagers are skilled at simple video editing. Challenge your teenager to interview grandparents and other older relatives (or, older people in your church) about what life was like when they were younger. Video the interview, and edit it into a short piece you can keep. Store them on YouTube and share them with other family members (or church members), inviting them to add more.

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