Why Parents Don't Believe Their LifeStories Are Important
I hear it all the time. Either from the older generation interviewees themselves or their children telling me, "Dad doesn't think his life and its stories are important enough to record." My favorite is from a 92-year-old who told me, "I don't know why my son wants me to do this. I'm just a simple country boy from Blanket, Texas." Well, this "simple country boy from Blanket, Texas" was at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941! If that weren't enough, he was also at the fought at Iwo Jima! In addition to that, this same guy built a very successful business starting with nothing! And he doesn't think his stories are important enough to record? (I'm trying not to get too wound up at this point). I believe there is an easy explanation to this thought process. Tom Brokow so masterfully wrote in his book The Greatest Generation http://tinyurl.com/2duto9m about his father's peers, those of the generation who fought in World War II. He clearly mentioned how humble they were. Let's face it, they (and we) were taught that talking about yourself is bragging...and that's not a nice thing to do. In addition to that, most of us think of ourselves as "regular people". To be interviewed, you have to be a celebrity or have to have done something spectacular in the world's point of view. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Just think of your favorite grandparent (I know, it's not politically correct to have a favorite, but we all had one). While they were "regular people" in the big scheme of things, how priceless would it be to have a recording of them sharing their favorite LifeStories? And what wouldn't a grandparent do to give a special gift to their grandchild? A popular homework assignment for third-graders is to take five questions the teacher gives them home to ask their grandparent about their life's stories. The kids are taught to interview them, write the answers down and then report to the class what they said. This wonderful exercise in communication skills is forgotten and lost as we grow older. I say we all go back to that assignment this week and finish our homework assignment from many years ago!
Parents don't believe their LifeStories are important, but we do. Let's honor them by learning from their stories and giving them the opportunity of sharing their lives through their stories. If they resist, ask them if their own grandparents' stories were important to them. If so, then remind them that they shouldn't deny their grandkids the joy or hearing their stories many years from now.