Telling Stories on Yourself

  by Andrew Wolgemuth

It’s a funny thing to realize that one’s childhood is darn near unimaginable to your offspring.

Way back…

…when phones were plugged into the wall and there was one for the whole house and we didn’t even know who was calling when it was ringing…

…when children didn’t sit in booster seats in the car until they were pre-teens…

…when televised sports didn’t have the score (and game clock and timeouts remaining) posted on the screen at all times…

It may as well be the scroll at the beginning of a Star Wars movie – so distant, so far far from this galaxy. It’s hard for our little people to realize that there was life before them…and it wasn’t as goofy as photo evidence may indicate.

I’ve found that telling stories from my youth helps make my childhood world more real to my kids and – more importantly – entertains the crew. It’s not that I’m a particularly great storyteller or that my childhood was full of harrowing adventures. Rather, I’ve just found a few keys that make my childhood stories connect and (usually) entertain. Fortunately, these keys also help me recall moments from the distant past to begin with.

Uses Places as Prompts

“Feel free to speak about anything” is often a nightmare invitation to a speaker…or a story-telling dad. Narrowing down the range of potential topics usually assists the storyteller in finding something to say, and using places as prompts has been quite helpful to me. In particular, use places that you’re re-visiting with your kids and tell them something about your first experience there.

“We went to that amusement park when I was a kid and…”

Use Moments as Prompts

From our kid’s perspectives, we’ve been around forever and we know what we’re doing and we’re rarely flustered. You and I both know that’s not the case, and there’s nothing like telling a story from our childhood to set the record straight.

“I remember when I was getting ready for my first soccer game…”

Tell on Yourself

The stories from my childhood that see multiple requests tend to have one main thing in common: I made a mistake. That time I underestimated my sister and she outsmarted her older brother. That time I thought I was fooling my parents and they were on to me from the start.

“So, my buddy had a water balloon launcher, and sometimes we would…”

I’ve even found that my not-that-distant parenting faux pas and awkward moments leave the kids howling (“This one time you were complaining that your stomach hurt, but I didn’t take you seriously…”). There’s something about anecdotal evidence that their dad is a flawed man trying his best that amuses them and helps keep me humble. Win-win.


There’s also the dadcraft skill of storytelling from scratch. And good ol’ madlib storytelling. And a more serious take on telling your story.

Sign up for every-other-week-dadcraft in your inbox bi-weekly via our newsletter.

Photo by Hannah Morgan on Unsplash