Skip to main content

Lifelong Bonds: This Mom Reflects on How Sharing Everyday Life and Stories Creates Close Connections Through Generations

Submitted by Rita Brhel on 22 May 2024

I found that building a relationship with my babies was easy. All I needed to do was cuddle, feed, and care for them. Naturally as my children grew, our relationship grew. I saw that what we did together as a family were ways for my husband and I to share our family values and stay connected over time.


From time immemorial until very recently in history, children have watched, imitated, and helped their parents work from an early age. Today, this is not an economic necessity or, in many cases, even a possibility. 

I think children need to see their parents at work and going about their business. Many parents have commented that the recent trend of working from home has benefited their family despite the struggles of balancing work and home life. One of the benefits is that children get to see their parents at work. When parents work outside the home, their work life is a mystery.

I also remember going with my parents on regular trips to the barber shop, beauty parlor, bank, grocery store, downtown department stores, church meetings, and all the other mundane places that made up the fabric of my parents' lives. They were places of great interest and vitality to me simply because my parents had business there. 

How much more then, I think, that my children need to be part of my home chores! This is a place where parents who work outside of the home can invite children into their life. 

I’ve found that my children are much happier watching me and my husband in our kitchen, helping to stir, setting the table, or playing nearby with real wooden spoons and a metal pan rather than spending a great deal of money on a toy kitchen.

The same can be said for our home office, garden, garage, and the workshop. I find that my young children want to be near me and my husband and, if not watching or directly helping, imitating in some way what we are doing.


As my children grow older, I've found that it's important to share with them the hobbies into which I pour my creativity. They don't always connect with a hobby, but I offer it anyway.

I never connected with my mother's knitting or my father's gardening, but my sister found hobbies in both and was enriched by them. Sharing knitting projects with my mother, and maintaining Dad's garden after he passed away, have given her a deep and lasting connection with both of our parents. 

I instead connected with my Mom's cooking, learning to make roast beef and chicken and chocolate cake just the way she does. I also connect with my parents through books and music. I enjoy re-reading books we once read together when I was younger or playing an organ piece my father plays or singing to my children the same songs that my mother sang to me. 

Sharing my books and music has become a meaningful way for me to connect with my children. It has been a delight for me to share  books with my older daughter as she learns to read that I enjoyed as a child and were introduced to me by my own mother. My younger daughter seems to especially enjoy my taste in music.

Common interests are always a way to build bonds with the people in my life. My children constantly enrich me and my husband with their fresh ideas, interests, and hobbies. Offering to share my meaningful hobbies with my children is offering them a bit of myself.


My children need to see the special places in my life.

"Right over the next hill," my father would say, "there used to be a beautiful stone-hewn bench. I wonder if it's still there? It's been more than 20 years since I've hiked this way."

The bench was and is still there. Now after his death, I continue to feel a sense of closeness to Dad when I hike that way.  I hope that my children will feel the same way about the way I feel about this bench when they visit my secret play area in the woods.

I feel the same way about the church I watched being built as a child and then helped my parents maintain afterwards.

"Here is the field my parents owned," my mother said recently, "and our farmhouse stood over there."

I am 37 years old and was seeing the old family farm in Minnesota for the first time. Yet, as I looked at the fields that my grandfather I never met once worked, I knew this field nurtured me as surely as it now nurtures its neat rows of corn.

"There is nothing like the feeling of being up above it all, here in the mountains," I remember my father saying once while we hiked together. "Listen! Do you hear that thunder? It's an avalanche on the face of that mountain. Look closely, and you can see the cloud of snow it kicked up."

Bonds are built by sharing time together. When I call my children to come share a sunset with me, or a starry night, our relationships are strengthened in a way only shared reverence and wonder can.


My dad loved baseball. I learned so much about his basic life values when we went to ball games together or just talked about the latest baseball game.

"A lot of the players in the city league were really good," my father would say. "They could've had professional careers if they wanted to, but they had families and businesses, so they stayed home and played in the city league. It wasn't about money for them. It was just for fun."

One of Dad's favorite stories: "I remember one year we had a team. Most of them were playing their last year, but many had never really been standouts. For that one year, everyone pulled together and had a great season. That team won the pennant that year!"

I have taken my children to the same city ballpark I went to when I was young with my father, and I tell the same stories that Dad told me to them.

I have plans to take them to see the same traveling circus and hope for them to see the same clown so beloved in my childhood. When they enjoy the antics of J. P. Patches the Clown, I hope that they will perceive the same very basic life values that once touched me: humor, warmth, and friendliness.


I will never forget the first Christmas away from home, which was also the first Christmas after my father's death. My mother came to visit, bringing some of the same holiday decorations, music, and cookie recipes that had always been a part of Christmas for our family.

I have found that rhythms of daily life are as important to our family as holiday traditions in making it easy for my children and myself to draw strength from such tangible connections.

Through the years, I have created many new traditions around holidays and seasons for my children while keeping the best of what my parents created for me. Routines like our daily religious activities, summer walks on the beach, and winter sledding trips in the mountains give my children a sense of sacredness and permanence of our family as well as a connection to me on the occasion when I am not there to share in it.

I also remember going with my parents to ethnic festivals near where I live. The elders of a culture passed down the lore of song and dance and craft to their young, as has been done for generations.

Our modern parenting culture dulls this tradition, I think, of parents passing on to their children expressions of who they are and where they came from.


We were driving along, and I mused to my husband, "You know, I was thinking about something that happened to me in high school once..." From the backseat, my 4-year-old daughter immediately and urgently alerted her 8-year-old sister, "Quiet! Mommy's telling a story!"

Before I became a mother, I never would've dreamed my children would be so hungry to hear stories about me. I'm learning, as my children grow, how much they do want to hear as much about me as I can tell. 

Sharing my life story is the most enduring way of sharing myself with my children. My children often beg me and my husband for yet another story of "when you were younger." They treat stories of my life as treasures to keep always.

It was the same with me and my parents, and my grandparents. No one had any idea that my father would die when I was 26 years old. I have treasured memories of all the stories he told about his life. 

I am working on a memory book of my life's stories for my children. As I write down for them who I am and where I've been and what I've done, I'm giving them myself to keep in their hearts for the rest of their lives. 

Supported by the strength of knowing who I am, they can discover the world for themselves.

What traditions and stories do you honor, share, and create as a family?