Our sense of who we are and our place in the world has been shaped by the stories we have heard, and the stories that have impacted us most strongly are the stories we heard as children.
Children are hungry for stories and will absorb them from any source they can: television, movies, video games and more. But the mainstream media convey messages to your child that can be deeply worrying. For example:
- “Owning and consuming things is what gives life meaning.”
- “You will only be loved if you are beautiful, rich, successful, etc.”
- “Violence is fun, hurting people is a fine way to settle your differences with them.”
The question is, what stories do you want your children to hear?
What if the stories our children heard gave them messages like these:
You are loved, just as you are. You live in a universe of love in which unseen help is always at hand.
You have boundless potential. It might not seem obvious to you, and the whole world might deny it, but you contain a universe of potential inside you.
And your potential is a gift to the world. Once you find it, your greatest satisfaction will be in sharing it with your community, and with the whole world.
Your deepest longings are a magic doorway. Hold true to your dreams and you will find what you are looking for, although not always where you expected to find it.
Your tears are important. Don’t push down your difficult emotions. Embrace them, and you will gain inner strength and courage.
There is nothing more satisfying than kindness and love. Caring for others feels good. Contributing to others will make your life meaningful.
You are part of the great web of life. You are connected to ever other person and every other being in this world. No one is isolated. Everyone matters. We all belong to each other.
How do stories pass on these messages?
Spoken plainly, such messages might not land in a child’s psyche. But weave them into a story that the child listens to over and over and they help to form the inner map that they carry with them for the rest of their life.
Imagine if we all had an inner map that affirmed our inherent goodness, our limitless potential and our connection to the source of all life, which is Love.
Stories furnish our inner world with rich metaphors and symbols. These help us make sense of our life, especially those things that we encounter that do not make rational sense to us, that are new and beyond our current understanding.
Stories can prepare our children for the inner and outer journey to come. They can lay jewels of wisdom along their path.
But what makes a good story?
Wonderful messages do not on their own make good stories. Good storytelling requires much more to be effective.
Storytelling is all about engaging and connecting
- speaking in the language of the child
- using scenarios they can understand
- describing dilemmas which they can relate to
Children especially love a story filled with
- drama and intrigue, danger and suspense
- magic and mystery, beauty and suprise
- funny characters and absurd scenarios
A storyteller keeps his audience engaged by
- changing the tempo and tension in the story
- using different voices for different characters
- adding music and rhythm to accompany the story
My daughter and I have become enchanted by your stories. The sound of your voice, the tempo of the words, the use of music and other sounds, thoroughly transports us both into another realm. It is almost like magic! And it has also helped my own storytelling skills. You have a wonderful style – I can sense my daughter become drawn in and focused as soon as she hears your voice. Thank you, Leo!
Melissa and Grace Rushbrook
Gold Coast, Australia
Or, perhaps you are wondering who tells these stories? Find out more about me, Leo Sofer, and how I came to be telling stories like this.