Most of us have cherished childhood memories of places, people and experiences.
Furthermore, it’s natural for us to want to share our recollections of these happy times with the ones we love by recounting events, telling funny anecdotes or looking at photos.
As parents we sometimes even go so far as to try to recreate these memories with our own kids, not only to re-live the moment but also to give our children similar treasured memories.
However, returning to our past and trying recapture the magic can often bring us undone.
Recently, I accompanied a dear friend on a holiday to her childhood holiday destination.
She desperately wanted to show her kids the place that she had spent her summers growing up, exploring and learning about life.
We visited the places she used to frequent and did the things she used to do. However, the magic just wasn’t there.
My friend was disappointed and frustrated that her kids weren’t into the experience as much as she’d expected or hoped.
But that’s because they weren’t looking through the lens of nostalgia. They were looking at it through the eyes of iGen tweens who have their own preferences and perceptions.
When she took them on a trek across the rocks and sand dunes, they didn’t see a young version of their mum having the time of her life. They just saw lots of sand and rocks with no wifi connection.
As one child hid from the sun with their earphones in and the other complained about the sand sticking to them, I realised there are a number of reasons why trying to recreate your childhood memories with your kids just doesn’t work:
- The experience isn’t in the same context as it was originally. Childhood memories are linked and backed up by other memories and experiences. Our children don’t have that background as a frame of reference.
- Like it or not, our kids are growing up in a very different world to us. They have very different preferences and ways of enjoying themselves.
- The golden hue of nostalgia can often increase the enjoyment associated with our memories, possibly beyond how much we enjoyed the experience the first time around!
The reality is, the past is often best left in the past. My friend’s memories of a special place are now tainted by the disappointment she experienced when her kids didn’t react the way she’d hoped.
Making memories with your kids is definitely important but we should strive to make new memories with and for them, not try to recreate our own.
What do you think? Have you successfully recreated a childhood memory with your kids?