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Father’s Day Wit & Wisdom

Providence Journal (Providence, RI) , June 17, 2007


Let’s be honest here — father to father. Much of parenting is about instinct, about applying the judgments we learned from our own fathers to guide our children into their lives.

But sometimes we could use a little help. Trouble is, good fathering advice is hard to find.

Fortunately, fathers today have two key parenting tools their ancestors didn’t: the Internet and Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations.

So for Father’s Day, we’ve enlisted some of history’s minds and mouths to fashion a guidebook for the guy who wants a more classic take on parenting.

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”

— Joan Didion (1934- ), American writer.

Do not discount the power of storytelling; it’s one of a father’s key tools, and not just at bedtime. Stories, told in one of the two voices that our children trust most, can ground them in the world, shape their behavior and get them to understand things they’d never even consider if you just told them.

So tell stories as if their lives depended on it — and tell real stories, not just made-up ones. Tell them stories about their grandparents, about their neighborhood, about where their food comes from, about who built their house. Tell them stories about people who do admirable things and make the world a better place — and then talk about the stories.

Come to think of it, any time you’re thinking about lecturing your kids, consider telling them a well-chosen story instead.

Subjects Covered: education, personal storytelling

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