June 23, 2020

The Importance of Playing Stories with your Kids

Today’s Newbie Tuesday post is a special topic for me. It may go without saying, but the way we’re connecting and interacting with our children is changing as our society’s technological development continues to push forward. The demands on our kids, socially and academically, have exponentially increased in exposure and pressure in the past twenty years. And consequently, it’s become more and more difficult for parents and the kids of today to not just see eye-to-eye, but really bond, forge great memories, and love spending time with one another.

How many times have we seen and/or experienced a whole family face-down in their phones around the table? Or that familiar refrain from the child, “you just don’t understand me!” Or all of the stories of the myriad things kids have to deal with in school like social media, society’s expectations around achievement, and bullying? How do parents of today not only relate to their child, but meet them where they’re at at any given point in time?

While there are many ways to reverse this trend, I would like to offer playing stories as a family as an option here as well. After all, there are few languages people universally understand like a story.

Imagine a scenario where the whole family is at the table, reticent, willing, or otherwise. As the parent, you’ve designed a story for your family to collectively experience over time. One that changes, evolves, lives, and breathes, just like your relationship with your child. One that is molded to where they’re at developmentally; one that honors how they see and experience the world around them at that time. The more the family invests in that experience, the stronger the resulting bond. The story’s twists and turns help mirror you and your children’s mutual understanding and help reinforce the trust and respect between you.

From personal and significant second-hand experience, I promise you that, if done right, the joy, the love, the laughs, and the memories of these shared stories will last a lifetime. The phone slowly gets put away, the anxiety quietly abates, and the pressure fizzles until the story healthfully and wonderfully becomes the priority for the time you’re together. And over time, you each grow through and from the experience. You share a common frame of reference and a rock-solid foundation for your many years to come.

I’ve created a tabletop role-playing system called StoryNite which caters to folks looking to play stories for the first time. And while its slim rules are quite accessible, it also provides the foundation for an amazing depth and complexity of story if you so choose. So for any parents out there looking to take the leap and give playing stories a try, consider StoryTogether a resource for you. Send me an email (storytogether.irg@gmail.com) and I’ll provide you with an advance copy of the system for free. Good luck – and have fun!