Parenting With A Story
Growing up in the 1960's sometimes my parents would say to me, "now, don't tell stories," heading off what they anticipated might be an untruthful account of events. That negative stigma of storytelling stayed with me for quite some time.
Today, as an adult, I now know the immense power of storytelling. Truthful stories, of course.
Storytelling is indeed one of the most powerful ways we communicate. Stories demand attention of listeners. Stories inspire. Stories are contagious.
"Stories put the listener in a mental learning mode," explains Paul Smith, author of the bestseller, Lead With A Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives that Captivate, Convince, and Inspire.
Paul is an authority on storytelling and has helped business people around the world to more effectively use storytelling.
Now, Paul has a new book, Parenting with a Story: Real-Life Lessons in Character for Parents and Children to Share.
Based on extensive research into storytelling, Paul demonstrates the power of a great personal story to reach and teach children—by showing the hero struggling and succeeding in a way that’s interesting and meaningful to them, or failing and suffering the consequences.
Since, as Smith acknowledges, “none of us has had the breadth of life experience to have enough great stories all by ourselves,” he provides 101 compelling real-life stories for telling kids something substantial—about themselves and how they treat others—that they’ll actually listen to and take to heart.
Paul spent a year interviewing people from all over the world, across a wide spectrum of ages, races, and life circumstances, and in an astonishing variety of fields and professions.
He then pulled from those interviews to present in his book a story collection of real-life stories to reinforce 23 character traits vital for children to grow into responsible, successful, caring adults.
"I asked questions designed to elicit memories of concrete events in their lives where they learned their most valuable lessons—their unexpected moments of clarity," explains Paul. I asked questions like:
- Tell me about a time in your life when you learned an important but completely unexpected lesson.
- What personal stories do you recall hearing as a child that taught you so valuable a lesson you still remember them to this day?
- What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made and why?
"Most interviews yielded between five and ten unique stories. From that total of perhaps 800, I selected the most compelling 101 to populate the pages of this book," adds Paul.
In the book, you'll find the stories to be uplifting, humorous, heartbreaking, and touching. They will impart lived wisdom and valuable guidance to children on:
- Ambition—including the importance of not only setting worthy goals, but also letting go of unhealthy ones.
- Grit—featuring the story of a young gymnast who devoted more than a year of effort, two hundred-plus practice sessions, and well over a thousand attempts to mastering a basic maneuver that takes less than three seconds to perform.
Wondering when the best time is to share your stories with your children? Smith suggests:
- Opportunistically - The best time to share stories like these is opportunistically – that moment when the need for it arises naturally in the course of your parenting. In fact, I’m of the mind that if you have to say, “Sit down and be quiet and listen. I’m going to tell you a story now,” you’re probably doing it wrong.
- Dinnertime is still a great time for stories. If your over-scheduled lives have taken this sacred time from you, reinstate it. It worked for centuries, and it still can. This is when your successes and failures from the day will turn into stories that explain the lessons you learned from them.
- Bedtime – Especially for younger kids, bedtime is always a great time for stories. Most kids would rather hear a true story about something stupid you did as a kid (and the lesson you learned) than hear you read another tired bedtime story from an old book anyway.