Every Dad Should be a Good Storyteller

This is something I think we can all really improve in. And I’ve been surprised as I’ve been raising my kids how much they do enjoy just hearing snippets of stories from my own past. And I remember sometimes I put my kids down and one really easy prompt is just, when we have five kids and I’d go into their room and I would try to think of a story of what something that I did when I was their age. And a lot of times it’s very difficult to come up with these stories depending on who you are, on the fly without a prompt. And so what we want to do is give you guys a very specific tool and that is that you need, if you want to become more of a storytelling father, you need to get really good at finding things to prompt the stories because a lot of these stories are buried in file cabinets far deep in the back of our brains.

And so it’s not easy to access them if somebody just said, “Hey, tell me a story.” But if somebody said, “Hey, tell me a story about when you were in school in the second grade.” Okay, now something will probably start to rise up. Tell me a story about something you did on during recess. And one of my friends, Paul Owens, he mentioned this I think in the Dad Abilities Teams podcast that he would come up with specific prompts around something they did that day. For example, if they saw one of their kids riding bikes that day, then at the dinner table they would say, “Hey, let’s all tell stories about bikes.” Or this is how he would even prompt when his parents or his in-laws are over is that he would say, “Hey,” and this is great for like kids that are seven, eight, nine, 10 something around that age.

Something that they were doing, climbing trees or whatever and just say, “Hey, we’re just going to tell stories about tree climbing.” But the thing that really is key, if you want to become much more of a storyteller and your kids need to hear these stories, I’ve not been the best at this. This is something that’s really important for me to practice is to find those prompts. Is to get really good, not at trying to remember the 800 stories that are buried in your head, which nobody is going to be great at that, but figure out ways to pull that stuff out and then have, realize that this is something your kids need.

This is sort of almost a part of something that really nourishes them is to hear stories from your past, from your wife’s past, from your parents, from other extended family members, get the wisdom of the elders of the generations and get the rootedness from the stories into your kids’ heads and hearts through the practice of storytelling and simple prompts I think is maybe the easiest way to really do this on the fly with zero prep that still really impacts our kids.

Yeah, and I think one thing I would add too is realize how important this is. Realize that we are story creatures. We breathe it, we talk about it. That’s why we go to movies. That’s why we go to plays. That’s why we think in story. That’s why we read books. We are narrative creatures and I think about this almost from a business perspective of don’t have zero market share. Your kids are already full story creatures, reading and listening and all immersed in an immense amount of stories. And so we shouldn’t have zero market share in regards to our family stories or the great grand biblical narrative story in regards to get more market share in your kids’ lives for what stories are in their ears, for what stories are in their heads, for what stories they’re churning on and thinking about. And I think the two great kind of poles on that is the individual in the sense of the individual stories with us, our family, our legacy, et cetera.

But then in the great grand narrative of teaching the scripture to them in a narrative way, in a story way that they see there is a beginning, an end, a future, a plot, a climax, twists, characters. And they are a character in that story as well. And so I think just, yeah, understanding the importance of narrative for your family is huge. And then as a father you are the gatekeeper to that. You are the person that can bring those stories to the table while you’re landscaping with your kids, while you’re playing with them, while you’re in drives. And another good way is cars, by the way, I would just say take advantage of the car rides. Car rides is another great place for this. Whether you listen to stories, we listen to audio books sometimes in the car, Narnia, stuff like that. Or telling stories or asking questions.

That’s a great dead time a lot of people don’t take advantage of. And so yeah, what would it look like to not be pressured by this topic today? But just think of like, oh, how can I just go home today and just tell one little quick story? Or how can I dwell on my own past? And it’s crazy also what it does for you. I think we do this in service of our kids, and then all of a sudden you’re like, oh, I forgot that. Oh, I didn’t realize that. Oh, I connected the dots there. Oh, that’s God’s faithfulness. Oh, I’m so thankful for that. And so there’s a crazy myriad of things where it also is a great discipline for us individually as a reflection tool that then can bless our family.

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