GUEST BLOG POST: Personally Crafting Creative Bedtime Stories for Your Child by M.J. Rusaw
Child-rearing is challenging. Crafting creative bedtime stories for your child is a rewarding way for both you and them to overcome some of those challenges.
There are many advantages to writing and telling bedtime stories. Bedtime stories have happy endings, bring joy, and prepare children for sleep. Importantly, bedtime stories allow a parent to take their child’s hand and with a soothing voice, lead them onto the “magic ground” where they can, through character identification, psychologically process life lessons in a safe and satisfying way. The carefully crafted bedtime story is an excellent tool for moms or dads to convey the views, beliefs and values—the moral of the story—they wish to impart, which goes a long way in pre-empting later conflict (the child acquires ownership of the lesson by prior right), and through narrative dramatization of the lesson, allow their child to experience and retain the lesson emotionally.
Every mom, especially midlife moms with more life experience, have at their pen tips this marvelous device for nurturing and training their children. Why rely on classic folk and fairy tales when you, who know and understand your child better than anyone, can craft specific bedtime stories to entertain, inspire and emotionally satisfy your family? It’s not as hard as you may believe.
Here's some tips:
• Create a central character your child can identify with. The spark of the Divine lives in each of us; a hero lives in every heart. When we connect our hearts we connect our heroes. Create a central character your child can connect with from the heart—hero to hero. Pay particular attention to the central character’s “Cardinal Quality”, or the quality we see when we first meet the character which defines the character throughout the story—Cinderella’s graciousness, for example.
• Select a theme—the moral of the story—you wish to dramatize in the story, being careful to write “the moral in the story”, rather than writing the moral of the story in an obvious way.
• Select a location. This is the “magic ground” of the story which governs its operation on a conscious level. This is the world in which theme and central character work. Like character identification, location, though it may be fantastic, should be crafted with familiar features to foster identification and deepen your child’s emotional experience.
• Craft your narrative around your central character, theme and location. The narrative element of the story is the dramatization of the whole story which transforms it into an emotional experience for your child, ultimately bringing him or her to “the sudden turn”, which brings the happy ending. Through narrative, we unfold the moral in the story.
• Write the ending of your story first, paying particular attention to “the sudden turn”, the moment when the story turns in the favor of the central character—after suffering difficulties and overcoming them through his or her own efforts (with maybe a little supernatural help from fairy godmother). Next, write the beginning, introducing the central character, the location and central conflict. Lastly, write the middle, dramatizing the central character’s struggle to overcome the conflict and achieve his or her story goal. With each failure show first the character’s emotional reaction followed by their intellectual reaction and recommitment to the goal.
• Finally, from introduction, through difficulties, to the happy ending, show how the central character changes. The central character must change (possess the moral of the story) and “return with transcendent truth” to live happily ever after. As a Mom, you don’t need to be a Hemingway or a J. K. Rowling to craft a compelling, joyful bedtime story for your child, simply connect your heroes and connect your hearts. The rewards are priceless.
M. J. Rusaw is the author of the fantasy epic The Tides of Eternity. He wrote the epic for his daughter, Rheannon, over a nine year period while she was growing up. He endeavored to inspire her to the heroic virtues of faith, hope and love. Rheannon was richly satisfied by her story—a hero lives in her heart. M. J. loves Deborah, his bride. They also have two sons and two grandchildren. The Tides of Eternity is available at Amazon.com in paperback and on kindle. For more information visit http://thetidesofeternity.com/.