Parents can be so frustrating. They have amazing, fun, touching family history to share. They tell stories all the time. But the minute you say you want to record them, they’ll say the moment isn’t right. Or their life story isn’t that remarkable. Or, what if they can’t accurately recall names, places, and dates? Will someone notice and call them out?
Your plans to document family history can easily be thwarted by the day-to-day. When you get together with your parents, your time is consumed by talk of grandkids, a leaky faucet, or plans for the next family gathering. Or worse: politics.
If this is you, it’s time to start working on a Stealth Memoir. Stop nagging your parents for interview time. Quit bugging them to start writing. Just find time to be with them. And talk. A great way to start is to ask for a re-telling of one of your favorites: “Mom, tell the one about…” Then listen. Ask for more detail. And encourage more storytelling.
You know your parents better than anyone, so you probably know what will prompt a good story. For some, it’s the opportunity to talk about childhood memories or relatives long gone. For others, business achievements or travel adventures. Go with whatever lights them up.
When you have some quiet time later on, write notes about what you heard. To start with, you can just outline the details. When you’re ready, write up a complete story. At some point you might find the right time to share it with your parents.
A good friend of mine is doing this with her parents. What she’s found is they’re having much more pleasurable visits. They spend less time talking about aches and pains and more time learning about each other. My friend feels more connected, and less stressed. And she’s gathering stories that will help her children understand the lives of their grandparents.
If you’re looking for a way to document your family history, I’d love to help. Let’s connect!
Copyright Liz Behlke 2018