From "once upon a time" and consistently until today, stories have served humankind well in difficult times. They teach us, amuse us, and distract us when quotidian affairs become overwhelming. Currently, the internet is exploding with resources to help students learn while schools are temporarily closed, but the best resource could lie within us: our stories, those we tell our children, and the stories they have to tell us.
And the best thing about stories? There is no assembly required.
Child psychiatrist Robert Coles argues that people’s stories speak for themselves. A medical doctor who taught literature at Harvard University, Coles believes that the sturdiest moral lessons are acquired through stories—both oral and written.
"The whole point of stories," he observes, "is not 'solutions' or 'resolutions' but a broadening and even a heightening of our struggles. The beauty of a story is in its openness—the way you or I can take it in, and use it for ourselves." Stories embody "the moral contradictions and inconsistencies in our personal lives," and help us to decipher the barrage of information that threatens to overwhelm us.
Many multigenerational families are taking refuge together. This is an ideal time for sharing the stories that, too busy or engrossed in our digital devices, until now we have been unable to tell. Describe what it was like when you were a kid, when you got into trouble, when you were scared. Pull out old photo albums and show your little ones pictures from when you were a child. Pictures prompt stories.