September 13, 2009

Sharing the Gifts of Our Stories

As a Social-Emotional teacher, I often explore the concept of giving with my students. We discuss that everyone has things that they can share and give to others. When young children are invited to explore this idea and think about what they can give to others, while they certainly name material objects, they quickly begin to name non-material gifts that can be shared such as love, friendship, respect and ideas.

As adults, do we sometimes forget about the gifts that we have to share with one another? The ones that we never run out of because they are a part of our inner world and are always available?

One precious gift that we have the opportunity to offer one another is our stories and experiences. I imagine you know this, but just in case you have forgotten I would love to remind you that sharing your personal experiences of what it’s like to be a parent and what it’s like to be you gives others a rare opportunity to see into your inner world. Opening up and sharing life experiences with one another can be a powerful offering that provides immeasurable support, encouragement, resources, opportunities to grow and new understanding for one another. I have learned so much from families who have graciously allowed me to peek into the windows of their interior worlds, sharing what it’s like to be a parent, the joys and challenges they face, the funny stories that emerge, the despair and frustration that always seems to rise up and so much more. And I know I’m not the only one who values this. 59% of the participants in my past parenting groups said that one of the most valuable parts of the group was hearing the stories and experiences of other parents.
“Sharing real-life experiences with other parents was the most meaningful moment for me in the group. I realized that I’m not so bad after all! Others have many of the same issues I have.”
“A valuable way to learn from other’s experiences as well as to understand that many others, who seem perfect on the surface, are facing similar issues.”
“I found it valuable to know that as parents, we all have hopes, dreams, areas of challenge and areas of expertise. We all want what is best for our kids because we love them so deeply.”
Next time you're in a conversation with someone and there seems to be an opening, experiment with sharing a story from your life or revealing something about you that they might not know from the outside. How does it impact the quality of your connection?

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