Did You Tell Your Children Stories About Your Life?

chisue

Reading through rob's thread about singing, I thought about this.


I would beg my mother for stories about her life as a little girl, growing up on a small (sustenance) farm in rural Rhode Island. Her family lived there from the time she was about four. They moved to a city when -- and my grandmother put it -- "The bulls started getting over the fences."


I love hearing about her collie, Beauty, and the animals on the farm, and her one-room school.


Did you hear 'homemade' stories like that from your parents? Did you tell your own children any?

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bpath Oh Sophie

My mom grew up in North Dakota. She was not happy with the life there and left as soon as possible to create the life she wanted. She did not like to tell stories about her childhood, only very few.

My dad didn’t really tell stories, either. I’m finding out a lot by reading the boxes of letters in the basement. Like the one where he‘s a teenager begging his dad (who’s away on vacation) to let him drive the car to the store to get the newspaper.

My kids heard stories when my husband and I tell them to each other. But I find we tell the same stories over and over. So much of what happens in life isn’t stories, but just occurrences!

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Elmer J Fudd

Not exactly. For whatever reason, I wanted our kids to know who we were as people. I don't think that involved "stories of our lifetimes" as the question poses, though it did sometimes in limited doses. Rather, my interest was for them to learn about our views and values and the whys and rationales behind them. It was part of trying to teach our kids to think about things to make good choices rather than an effort to entertain or inculcate them with history lessons. They were free to do as they wished for most things and of course are now as adults. I wanted them to have many examples of the process of assessing alternatives when making choices.

There are probably dozens of ways to get to the same answer but I'm proud that this was one of many things we did to raise individuals who became confident independent thinkers who make good decisions.

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chisue

My mother's stories were not all sunshine and light. They contained morals and truths -- the harder ones only as I grew old enough to hear them.

"Three Little Pigs" in my Mom's stories only resulted after a neighbor helped my grandfather build a breeding crate to restrain his reluctant sow.

Not that it was all harsh. There was the poor hen who hatched the duck eggs put in her nest, hysterical when her ducklings took to the pond. There were stories of schoolyard mischief and my mother pretending to love lard sandwiches so that a migrant's child would take her meat sandwich in trade at lunch. Mom preened when her father drove his new motor car down hill past her school, only to eat crow when it wouldn't make it up the hill later that day. An only child, she envied the companionship of the eight kids living in poorer circumstances just down the road.

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whatsayyou18

My mother was a narcissist who would talk about herself non stop, including stories of her past. Given that I wanted to be nothing like her, I did not talk about myself to my kids. They wouldn't have been uplifting stories anyway; no one wants to hear how awful their grandmother was.

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patriceny

I don't have children. I tell my dogs all sorts of stories though. :)

I used to love to get my parents and grandparents talking about the stories of their lives. I learned so much about what they lived through and endured, and as I've gotten older I understand a lot more about how one's upbringing and surroundings contribute to who you are as an adult.

Neither of my parents lived particularly great lives as children. The hardships they went through influenced how they treated me as I grew up. In my teenage years none of it all made sense to me. Now it does. With age really does come wisdom sometimes.

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maifleur01

I soon learned that many of my mothers stories were not that factual. While some have turned out to be others not so much. Strangely the wilder ones have turned out to be true. My dad spoke little about his life and/or his family. I only found out that he had uncles living in the area when I was in my 20s.

My life is only told in bits and pieces normally to my cats or if someone asks about something.

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nickel_kg

My maternal grandfather was the storyteller in our family. He'd get the ball rolling over coffee and cookies around the kitchen table and the grownups would reminisce. Like about the dark and stormy night they saw someone burying something large out across the field, and the next day the newspaper was full of some story about a missing gangster. Or how my uncle hated school, and the only way he'd get on the school bus was for his older sisters lure him on board with his lunch box. We were never 'lectured' with stories, that would have been tiresome. So yes I enjoy family stories and have passed a few on to DD.

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arcy_gw

I wonder if it is the ND in them Sophie? My parents are from central ND--town of the BIGGEST BISON IN THE WORLD..but spoke little of their life. When my dad went over seas we went back to Jamestown to live and I found their pictures on the school wall--I learned some amazing things...but still over all I know little.

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Mary506

I loved hearing about my Mom & Dad's life. They both came from Ireland but did not know each other over there. They came from big families & had a hard life. As kids we always asked my parents if they ever wanted to go back to visit & always got the same answer "NO". Wish I had asked more questions as I don't know that much about Ireland.

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mama goose_gw zn6OH

As a child, I loved hearing stories about my family. My grandmother missed her childhood home, and loved keeping memories alive by retelling the stories to her children and grandchildren. My children have been raised in the bosoms of both their parents' families. There has been no shortage of relatives willing to tell them stories about me as a child ... sometimes things I don't necessarily want them to hear.

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eld6161

Unfortunately, both my parents had many hardships so I really don't recall any happy or amusing stories.

Although I have shared some of my childhood difficulties with my two DD's, for the most part, I tell stories with humor.

Often it might not be humor than "outsiders" would understand, but they are laugh out loud for us.

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Kathsgrdn

No, I told them made up stories about them and their cousins going on adventures around the world or in the woods. I also read to them quite a bit but their favorites were the made up stories.

I may do this for them, though, tell them about my life. I wish my parents would have. I know my dad didn't have a great life growing up and only in the last 6 years or so even knew he grew up with a cousin in his grandparents' house. That cousin's son called me last summer. I didn't know any of them. I got his information and meant to find him on facebook but now I can't find it.

My mom didn't tell many stories either. I found out her father owned a fish market. I thought she told me he was a fisherman. She didn't talk about what it was like growing up in Japan. I wish I had asked more questions.

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HU-629454853

My parents never sat down and told us about themselves.. Their stories were part of conversations when something reminded them about the past. We grew into adults hearing much about them from grandparents as well as uncles and aunts. Over the years we children have probably heard everything.

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blfenton

We knew a little about my father's life and my young nephew had to do a research project on an older relative a couple of years ago and he picked my father, his grandfather. The stuff that he dug up was so interesting, pictures of him as a young boy at school, the mining community where he grew up, etc.

My mother didn't tell stories either but, as many of you know she has Alzheimers and she owned a lot of antique furniture that had been passed down. So before she forgot the stories attached to them I sat down with her, took some pictures of the furniture and the dishes and platters, etc and had her tell me the stories attached to them. It was so much fun but boy, there sure were some relatives that she didn't like!

I don't tell stories about my upbringing to my kids but it's quite a boring one.

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colleenoz

I used to tell my DD some stories about myself, I think I had a fairly unique upbringing. I remember asking my own mother for "stories about the olden days", which she go exasperated by. I couldn't understand why she got mad because I thought she was a contemporary of Jesus LOL Her name was Mary Ann and I kind of conflated it in my 4yo mind with the Virgin Mary and St Anne :-) I wish she had told me more, there's a lot that I only have a tiny thread of and no way of putting it together :-(

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jemdandy

My parents were a product of the Great Depression. Dad had an 8th grade education and Mother only made it though the 6th grade. She married when she was 16 and Dad was 24. He was a WW1 veteran and had been out of the Army about 1 yr when the met and married. They were poor people and lead a hardscrabble life. They had been married 5 years and were trying to establish themselves while leasing land on an Indian Reservation in Oklahoma. Disaster struck. While shopping in town, their cabin burned. The returned home to find that they had lost everything; All they had was the clothing they were wearing. Some friends took up a meager collection, gave then a few scraps of clothing in a cardboard suitcase, and they left Oklahoma to find temporary refuge in Northern Illinois with Dad's parents. He found work at the Libby-Owens-Ford glass factory; She worked a little in a restaurant. They lived in a rented room.

Then came the bank crash and Dad's job was gone.

The story goes on . . . .

Parts of this tale was told to my sister and me by Mother; Dad did not talk about his past. He would not discuss the war or what he did. He wanted to put that memory out of his life. He may have been influenced by his Dad. Grandfather refused to tell his children about his relatives. When they asked, he'd say that it was not important and if you ask again, I'll box your ears. By this, I deduce there may have been friction within the family. (I have done a credible job of researching that part of my family and have not discovered why my Grandfather exhibited such attitude.) It seems that my Dad was not aware about a large part of his family.

I have been writing a few family stories about events that happened when I was a child. These were made to have a record of what our life was like during that period. I had been requested by my niece to write a genealogy 'book' of our family, but I may never get that task done. Instead, I record family stories as those cross my mind. I do include much of this material as notes in my genealogy file. I find that it gives life to characters in this saga. My best piece is called, "When Daddy Quit Smokin' ". After writing it, I discovered that my two nieces never knew that my Dad had smoked and chewed tobacco.

On to another subject. Yes, Mother did read stories to us children. She had subscribed to a magazine that published a series of stories. It may have been the Saturday Evening Post. One of her favorites was Paul Bunyan and Babe, the big blue Ox series.

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Lukki Irish

We’d hear stories but the majority of them involved some kind of a life lesson. It was my grandmother and our aunts and uncles who filled in the gaps for us with fun stories from when she was a little girl. I didn’t have much appreciation for any of it back then, but oh what I’d give to hear them tell those stories now.

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Lars

My parents were also both products of the Great Depression, but their families were wealthy enough to afford servants, and so both of my parents were used to having servants. My father treated everyone in the family like a servant.

My mother used to tell us stories about her life at the breakfast table, and she would talk about her ex-boyfriends and even had pictures of some of them. She liked to talk about visiting New York and Connecticut in the 1940s. My father was a WWII veteran, and he would talk endlessly about his experiences in the war, and I was not interested in hearing about that at all. His mother told interesting stories about her life and some about my father, but she had a very active imagination, and so a lot of the details may have been fictional, but at least were entertaining. My mother's mother did not talk that much about her life (except when trying to enforce discipline) - she preferred to gossip about other people. She was too young to remember Germany, but told stories that she had heard from her parents about "the old country". My maternal grandfather was a very quiet person, but he would tell stories about the oil boom town where he lived and about other boom towns that had turned into ghost towns.

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chisue

Today I realize that my mother's stories were life lessons -- a plainer reality as balance for a little girl living in relative affluence in a suburb of Chicago. Elmer spoke about teaching values. My mother started doing the same thing in a way a small child could comprehend. (She continued to model them throughout her life.)

As with Jem, Genealogy has enriched my view and explained many things. I knew that all of my grandparents struggled, but a lot was hidden -- things that would not be considered deep dark secrets today.

For example, I knew my mother's parents struggled, but not the extent of my grandmother's poverty. I only knew her as an embittered widow who had barely survived the Depression. She never spoke of her background. She was adamantly Scots and scorned the clannish, pious Irish she knew as an immigrant in NYC. I knew she had arrived as a teen on a sailing ship from Glasgow with her mother and older brother, then met a fellow Scot and married my grandfather. I didn't know that all her family were dead of TB (and likely malnutrition) before she was thirty. I still don't know about her father, but there's some kind of story behind a woman who hated men and declared her husband the only good man she'd ever met!

Surprise! That sailing ship's manifest identifies her mother with a clearly Irish name, and the family had boarded in Londonderry, then sailed out of Glasgow. There's more! Yes, my grandfather does have a long line of Scots-Americans going back to New England before the Revolution, but his Missouri birth certificate shows his mother with an unmistakably Irish surname. To think I've been 'passing' as Scots (and French -- paternal side) for 78 years! LOL

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Judy Good

Yes, both my parents do! The older I get the more I love to hear them. Dad has passed but he was a great story teller. Like when he burned the barn down when he was 4 years old! OOPS Mom is still alive and frequently we talk about her childhood, she had a great life with loving parents. Mom is the youngest of 10 kids and the only living child at 87 years old. I was fortunate to be able go and visit my Mom's mom at her childhood home. Pump well in the kitchen, wood burning stove and an outhouse. No plumbing but did have limited electricity. They lived by the railroad tracks and she remembers the "hobo's" coming to the house for a sandwhich and Grandma would give them a couple and let them sleep in the barn. Grandpa worked for the railroad and was gone a lot.

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patriciae_gw

As a southerner we have a history of telling stories and it was very much a part of my upbringing though trying to fit all those tales into some sort of coherent history is another matter. We practiced our own history with my mother starting "remember whens" My mother was a spoiled only child and most of her stories were about how special she was to her doting father. My father did not talk much about his childhood though I know they moved frequently as my grandfather was a mason and builder. I spent a good deal of time with my mothers step-mother-my Grannie- and learned as much about her life as I could. She was a child of the depression-something that for her on a prosperous farm in the south was just something they heard about happening elsewhere. Grow your own food and make your own clothes and you only need money for taxes and coffee and salt. I loved hearing about her life. she was one of a big family of girls and they had to work like boys. Their father did not want them to leave home so for each of them it was an adventure to leave. I don't have children and have always lived all the way across the country from my kin so I have had no one to pass on what I know nor about my own life but there you are. I love social history and yet historians will use the lives of the rich and famous thinking they are telling you how people lived in the past-the one tenth of the one percent.

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yeonassky

Absolutely not at least about my crazy childhood! My life after leaving home is an open book however. Pre my 20s and my scary family would have scarred them for life as it did me.

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marilyn_c

I kept a diary when I was a young teen....13 to 15, and I let my daughter read them. I also wrote The Story of My Life, and she read that.

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sheilajoyce_gw

We were taught by our father to be proud of our Irish heritage. I think he stressed that because he grew up in Chicago in the early 1900s where discrimination against the Irish was strong, and he wanted to protect us from such prejudice. I really never heard stories about his family. I don't even know if he had any grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins. He had a nutty older sister and his father, a conductor on the railroad, was a strong, domineering man. He left home and city when he was a young man, probably fresh out of high school. My mother grew up the eldest child of a poor minister in the small towns of southern Illinois. Eventually, her father was assigned to work for the national headquarters in Evanston, where she and her siblings all received a free college education at Northwestern University. She told some family stories, such as of her sister who would line up the chickens and preach to them or how she would while away the hours in church in the front row of the balcony by spitting at all the bald men below. Her grandfather was an architect in Springfield, and was part of the committee that supervised the opening of Lincoln's tomb. I wish we knew more about our parents. background.

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littlebug zone 5 Missouri

No, I didn't. They are grown now, but they really weren't interested. As many others have said, I had a very poor upbringing; however I earned a bachelor's degree and was lucky to have had a very long successful career. DH was the same. So we brought up our boys (yes, we probably spoiled them) with almost all the material goods they wanted. Stories I would attempt to tell them about my childhood were entirely outside their reality and they couldn't relate.


My parents rarely told stories. Both were dirt-poor. I remember a very few incidents that my mother would allude to but she never fully told stories. In the past few years, the small town where she grew up has had all its newspapers since the 1850's digitized and posted on the internet. So I have been researching and filling in between the pieces of what I knew. Jaw-dropping, and not in a good way. Mom has been deceased now for over 20 years, but she would be appalled to know all the details of her family history are available to anyone who cares to look.

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Rose Pekelnicky

I did and still do tell them things about the family as it pertains to a conversation we are having or an occurrence.

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Anglophilia

My parents were of a generation that shared very little about their own personal lives (they were born in 1901 and 1908). They told a few stories about growing up with siblings, but only a few.


I'm the family story teller and my grandchildren love hearing my stories.

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seniorgal

Before so much information was available on the Internet, I did a genealogy of my father's family. In addition to that information I wrote stories of my early life, taking it through the year, month by month. In that way I gave them insights into my early life. The book also included biographies of each ancestor. All of my extended family enjoyed those stories and it gave them insights into the way we lived. I hope some of their generation will continue the tradition.

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

The two young girls (my sprites) who live next door have always asked me about my childhood and they don't forget a thing! Here's a funny story.....about four years ago when the youngest sprite was in kindergarten, she loved to talk about her teacher, who was funny and so loving.

One day she asked me about my kindergarten teacher, just in passing. I described that old battle ax with honesty but also with humor....I didn't want to terrify her. But that woman was horrible, a child hater, successfully instilling fear into all of her little 5 year old charges.

My stories of Miss Smith (name changed) fascinated her and for days she asked me about Miss Smith. That was when she was 5; she's a bright, imaginative 9 year old today.

Guess who she wanted to be for Halloween this year? Out of the blue! Couldn't be talked out of it!

We spent hours shopping for the heavy shoes that I could spray paint black, clothes that could be modified, long underwear that we could pad, eye glass frames, an 'invisible' hair net, bobby pins, and the kind of jewelry that matched my memories. Some local thrift stores provided the perfect items.

I couldn't come up with a cologne that imitated her lingering odor of moth balls, sweat, and something cloyingly sweet. ;-)


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OklaMoni

My girls got grand parent stories, about my grand parents. Later, after my girls were old enough to know the difference, I told them how I grew up.

There really wasn't a need, to tell them while they were young.

Moni

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