Joyce Slater writes…
Storypartners for Teenage Parents is an intergenerational storytelling/mentoring residency for high schools. It is designed to promote communication between teenage parents and parents of another generation. Like it or not parents have similar experiences no matter when they became a parent. This program gives all participants a chance to tell his/her own story to someone who is there to listen to them.
Before the residency begins, possible mentoring partners are interviewed and screened. After the mentors are chosen, they participate in a workshop designed to help them tell their own personal stories. The students participate in a similar workshop before the two groups meet.
The residency lasts two to three weeks with monthly follow-up gatherings for the mentors and the students. The facilitator meets with the parents and the mentors separately and together to develop the process of telling their own stories of child rearing. The facilitator also uses stories to illustrate topics of discussion, like love, hope, disappointment and fear. Sometimes music is incorporated into the process. Puppets, art and journal writing are all part of the program. The facilitator works with the students to develop some stories to tell to the infants. These are familiar children’s stories as well as personal stories.
This program builds community, challenges assumptions, transforms culture, heals wounds and helps these students and the mentors embark on new roads.
Parenthood can be a very scary endeavor for a person no matter what their age, but add to this the pressure of an unwanted pregnancy, parental and peer disapproval and abandonment. You have the makings of a disaster not only for the individual but for society. This mentoring program gives them the opportunity to compare their stories to the stories of another parent of another generation, and find out how much alike they are.
Parenting is a risky business for parents everywhere. We count ourselves lucky if we have someone who will listen to our problems, worries, joys, loves, fears and hopes. Listening is so important for all of us, that it is why this program is especially important for young parents. Often young people are not taken seriously, even when their situation is very serious.
What happens to teenagers who find themselves pregnant? No matter what kind of living situation they have, pregnancy does not make it better. At best, the student has an understanding parent who will help out. At worst, they find themselves out on the street or living with an abusive husband or boyfriend. Everything piles up and it looks like there is no where to go.
This program is not the answer to all the problems with teenage pregnancies. It does open a door. With stories friendships are made. Sometimes these connections last a few weeks, sometimes they last years.
This program came to me because of my daughter’s story. She had been a teenage mother. At the end of her junior in high school year, she found that she was pregnant. She delivered a fine baby boy in the middle of her senior year. My baby had a baby of her own. It turned our house upside down and stories brought us to an even keel. Our stories provided the connection we needed.
Stories can do the same thing for the students and the mentors in this program.
EXAMPLE OF ONE RESIDENCY
An intergenerational storytelling/mentoring program designed to promote communication between parents of different ages with similar experiences. It helps the students learn about parenting from someone who has been there.
The residency will last two weeks. The instructor will meet with the MOMS and the MENTORS separately and together to develop the process of telling their own personal stories of child rearing and child bearing.
Supplies will be distributed to everyone.
The schedule is as follows:
September 13, Class 1
First meeting with students only at the High School
Introductions and orientation
What is storytelling? Why is it important to know about
Personal story by facilitator
Draw a picture of family
One on one story sharing
September 15 Workshop
What is storytelling?
How to tell the stories of our lives
One on one story sharing, guided by the facilitator
September 16 Class 2
Continuation of storytelling by facilitator and students
September 17 Class 3
Mentors and Students meet
Connect with partner
Stories-One on one, guided by the facilitator
September 18 Class 4
Facilitator tells story, Aesop’s Fable, The Miller, His Son and
Their Donkey, which illustrates that no matter what you do
someone will find something wrong with it. The same is true of
Share stories of difficult decisions, for instance, disciplining a child in public.
September 19 Class 5
Mentors and Students
The story of the Boy and the Snake
Is or was there a snake in your life?
Moms and Mentors share stories on this theme.
September 20 No Storytelling scheduled, work on journals
September 21 Zoo Outing
Moms and Mentors and Babies
September 23 Class 6
Students and Mentors
Story, Demeter and Persophone, different kinds of love
Moms and Mentors share stories about love.
September 24 Class 7
Use puppets to develop stories
Develop the character of puppet
Position in family
Setting, for instance, home
Solution to problem
Tell the story
September 25 Class 8
Mentors and Students
Retell each other’s story
Explore the following
Tell the story of first job, favorite job
September 26 Class 9
Favorite nursery rhymes and stories from childhood
Tell them to each other
Someone starts one, the rest finish
Stories will be distributed, students read and retell.
Story activity sites
September 27 Class 10, Final
Students and Mentors
Celebration, Food and Stories
What stories do we tell our children, about ourselves, about life?
What fairytales, folktales do we tell our children?
Share a story from the week.
October, November, December, January, February, March and April Informal meetings for Students and Mentors.
The schedule is subject to change.
The described program meets several Nebraska educational standards for completion of grade 12 for writing and reading in the areas of oral performance and distinguishing between fiction and non-fiction. It covers legend, myth fantasy, short story and autobiography.
For More on Joyce Slater check out her website: http://www.storyraps.org/