It was a classic joy of the family circle: parents and grandparents sharing “when I was a child” stories. Family circles may be harder to come by in the age of individual screens, but you can still discover the pleasure of family storytelling—and use your memories to improve family relationships.
A few tips for “gathering round the hearth” (or around the family room or dinner table) to share your childhood memories:
The following “talking with children about your childhood” tips work equally well in organized family evenings and casual conversations.
“When I was a child” reminiscences are not to be confused with “when I was your age” lectures. Hearing about the old days is fun; hearing that one’s whole generation is a disgrace is not. Too much of that—even disguised as family storytelling—will only leave your kids unwilling to listen to you at all.
In the same category as “avoid unfavorably comparing this generation to yours” is “avoid pretending you were the perfect child.” Admit it: you did your share of crazy things a few decades back. Go ahead and turn those escapades into a good laugh for your kids: they won’t copy your mistakes if you talk about things you didn’t get away with.
Even when the primary focus is on your own childhood, let your kids do some of the talking. You may be surprised at what the current young generation knows better than to do—and at their ideas that might work for you today.
Remember, the primary idea (besides having fun and building family relationships) is to bridge the generation gap. Don’t be afraid to let kids see themselves in your past self, or visualize their future selves in your present self: they likely are interested in being like you already. Be willing to also see yourself as being like them, and you’ll equip yourself to be a better mentor and guide!