Rituals’ is the word that is set in the deep roots of a traditional eastern family. Eastern families thrive on their ancestral traditions or value-sets and take pride in passing on various traditions from one generation to another. They believe that the societal fabric is woven with the thread of a number of cultural, religious and societal traditions. But undoubtedly one ritual that has amalgamated East with West for centuries is the ritual of storytelling and singing lullabies. They say singing comes naturally to a parent and the art of folktale plays an inevitable role in a child’s identity development but somehow millennials aren’t doing it anymore. Is it because of the easy access to music on the internet or convenient lifestyle that is the new ‘in’ thing in modern day parenting, let us try focus on it in this article.
Mankind, since the time it dwelled in caves, has used paints and pigments to tell stories and create myths, and with the evolution of language, the art of storytelling has evolved too. A basic purpose of storytelling is to create bonding with the past. It is psychologically important to be connected to the past and evolve at the same time. The art connects you to history, culture and personal identity. From as early as 700 BC, storytelling has altered individuals to families, groups, communities and even nations. It is indeed undeniable that storytelling increases our understanding and empathy and that is why before the cyber revolution this art had been the most reliable form of training a child in his early developmental years. Various researches have proved that the bonding storytelling creates is very strong and with this opportunity to learn from others’ experiences, we can strengthen or challenge our opinions and values. In either case, stories are influential and that is why today even if parents are missing on it, business leaders have realized its importance more than ever and the most reputable business schools teach this skillset emphasizing that leaders are those who have a great story to tell and even the basic business pitches have a story in them to make the whole idea impactful.
We have all grown up listening to some amazing folklore and poetry by our parents and grandparents and its impact on our mental and emotional upbringing has been immense. We often sit in our family get-togethers talking about how enriched our past has been with memories as a unified big family, even if it included our neighbours and friends. We also miss the quality time spent with our grandparents where they told us bedtime stories and often talk about how important their role has been in making us what we are today. We also compare modern day parenting to the conventional one and let’s be honest both have their pluses and minuses. The only thing that is missing in our discussions is how do we go forward from here and how can we unlearn or relearn from the lacking of modern day parenting while adapting the most simplistic ‘nighttime’ rituals for our children in order to give them the time they actually deserve.
Screen addiction has now been declared as an actual mental disorder by various reputed psychological researchers and while it is sad to see our own self and kids getting glued to screens limitlessly, we are also clueless on how to modify lifestyles in a way that is not forced on the kids and ourselves. Rather a whole roadmap needs to be devised for our homes in a way that is immersive, enjoyable, creative and inspirational. I believe the first step towards this journey of family wholesomeness is through folklore and poetry.
In its early years, a human brain is developing at the fastest pace and linguistic skills are rapidly developing. Through singing them lullabies and telling them stories, we start giving children a sense of inclusivity, and through this we alter their small creative brains by inculcating the same value set we grew up with. Another benefit of this oldest art of teaching is to do purposeful talking in a light way that helps children be inspired by the commonalities of the varied cultures, problems with solutions and past successes.
The initial six years in a child’s life are the most crucial ones where a toddler’s mind is like a sponge, with an unmatchable readiness to absorb anything that comes its way. There are too many skills developing at the same time from language to cognition, from social skills to survival skills and problem solving. All these skills require sensitive coaching and that for sure does not come from lecturing alone; these days they key is experiential learning. The kids need to connect with you, and you need to engage them in a meaningful way. That is where the role of folklore and poetry comes in — both the mediums ensure fun learning and the emotional bonding that is created with the narrator is remarkable. No technology or screen engagement can replace the power of physical interactions and emotional connections that have time and again proven to be irreplaceable.
The way forward demands us to be back to basics, to real relationships and quality time. Let’s all give a shot to what always has proven to be the most effective family binder — storytelling. Some rituals need to be celebrated. Let’s try to have family get-togethers of storytelling for toddlers, let’s urge schools to have a separate room for the purpose. Let us try to get a break from screen time in order to spend quality time with the family. This has to be a collective effort, this meaningful engagement with the kids need to have a slot in our daily routine. This is imperative. HH
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