The purpose of this study was to determine the role and function of family recreational storytelling across the lifespan from the perspective of parents and their adult children. Twelve adults, (six pairs of adult children and their parents) were interviewed. Questions focused on ascertaining the meaning of storytelling (including the role, purpose, and function) from the perspectives of the parents and children from the same family unit. Interviews were transcribed and themes were identified and reported. Participants reported that stories generated feelings of safety, comfort, and security, and often helped create a sense of importance and belonging for individual family members. Family bonding appeared to be the overarching theme under which all other noted themes were grouped. The high degree of enjoyment and fun during family recreational storytelling, reported by both parents and their adult children in this study, suggested that fun was an impetus for family recreational storytelling. Storytelling appeared to facilitate teaching and learning, promote the transfer of values, inspire children to emulate their parents 19 beliefs and values. Participants reported that stories enabled them to see situations from another person 19s perspective. Adult children reported positive changes in attitudes toward their parents as a direct result of family recreational storytelling. Family history stories appeared to be related to the creation of a family identity. The role and purpose of storytelling in the family seemed to change consistently across the lifespan, therefore, a developmental model of storytelling in the family is suggested and recommendations for future research are given.



College and Department

Marriott School of Management; Recreation Management



Date Submitted


Document Type





storytelling, narrative therapy, families, stories, family recreation