Recording Family Stories: What Do Kids Remember?

by admin on May 30, 2012


I’ve always said that raising children up to their teenage years was fulfilling and mostly fun.

What happens after that is more than a little frightening.

What kids remember:

The challenges of parenting get more intense as the years progress. I don’t think I ever had a clear understanding of what it meant to be a parent until I had children of my own.

In the beginning stages of parenting I told my mother that I was clueless as to child-rearing and she quickly agreed. “You don’t really know what’s it’s like until you raise them,” she said with a smug look on her face.

Well, if I was clueless about parenting at 34 with four college degrees, what must it be for children during their teenage years and their 20’s? I assume that many see life with parents as a one-way street that involves mostly taking and little giving.

It becomes especially difficult when they conduct their lives in ways that creates some  fiction (which applies to most older kids).

What you remember—what they should remember:

You remember every detail as a parent. You remember the 3:00 a.m. sick calls; the homework due the next day, the fear of bullies; the bills and the anxieties of figuring out the best way to parent.

I get the sense that the only thing many older kids remember is anything negative.

Maybe, just maybe grown kids need to have access to a time when mom and dad were their protectors and best friends.  Being exposed to an interview with parents when they were young creates memories that may be the best way of transporting everyone back to a time when all was mostly right with their young worlds. Mom and dad knew what to do and the kids depended on that love, that comfortable place.

Like home movies:

Like home movies, an audio interview is a way of recapturing a different time. It’s nothing more than getting parents and the kids on several phones and starting a recording. You get to hear the laughter and the hopes and dreams of young people secure in the knowledge that parents were there to provide, protect and unconditionally love.

Older children remember this deep in their psychology, but it gets lost when lack of money, unsupportive friends and bewilderment over their futures drives their souls.  When once protective and loving parents properly insist they fend for themselves (as all good parents do) the conflicts are inevitable.

Let all return to the audio interview when mom was ever hopeful but anxious about the right thing to do. Let all listen to the reality of being a mother; how she stretched the budget; how she was exhausted with the 3:00 a.m. sick calls but still went to work the next day.

Let the “adult” kids relive the realities of parenting through older eyes. Yes, they hear their own laughter and hopes for the future, but mom and dad are now just struggling and hopeful people, not a lot older than what they are now, who tried to do the best they could.

If transported back to a different time, mom or dad becomes just like them, just another young person trying to make their way in life with limited means.

That fact that parents succeeded means that they can too.  The fact that mom or dad was a real person who faced the same problems and won gives them hope for their own futures.

Hopefully, mom’s and dad’s success becomes part of the roadmaps of their lives. That roadmap is well-presented through audio interviews.

Best, Len.

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Monica Lee May 31, 2012 at 11:07 am

I found this post interesting. Recently, my stepdaughter who is exploring her relationship with her parents to determine how it shaped her, asked to see some old home videos. We spent six hours reliving how cute she was, how happy she was and how everyone around her loved her. I can’t be completely sure, but I think she was reminded that her life wasn’t all bad (or whatever she assumed it was).

Yesterday, I wrote a post about a trip I took with my parents when I was 15. My diary reveals I was nonplussed at the time, which I am sure annoyed my parents to no end.

admin June 3, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Hi Monica: Thanks for the note and link. Those home movies may have the ticket to a happier life. Thanks for sharing. Best, Len.

Ed Kish June 12, 2012 at 6:18 am

Good Day! Your post is very interesting. I have mentioned it on my website but have linked it back here so my readers could easily access your blog.


admin June 12, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Thanks Ed. You have a nice site. Let me know via e-mail if you want to exchange links. Best, Len.

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