"Why should I tell my life story?" It's a good question, one I hear frequently. I can easily rattle off several reasons:

Sharing stories encourages a closer, more meaningful relationship with your children and grandchildren.

Family's stories are worth telling because you may be able to describe people, times and places that no one else in the family knows about.

Lastly, you can help the next generation—inspiring, teaching and modeling strength and courage for them.

Although these are three very good reasons to tell your life story, you should also consider what happens if you don't tell your story. What is lost?

Here are three very important things that evaporate when family stories are not shared.

1. Relationships
Do you really know your parents and grandparents? One woman I worked with, Donna, didn't even know her mother's real first name until she interviewed her. She also felt a new connection to her grandfather—someone she had never known—as her mother recounted stories of him.

Genuine family communication has had some setbacks recently. Movies, TV, computers, video games, iPods and the radio have made family time more difficult to eke out and made it less likely that children will have opportunities to talk with older relatives.

Additionally, family gatherings may seem more and more rushed due to relatives living farther and farther apart.

We have to be intentional about connecting, via the phone or in person, if we can, to be sure the stories and the relationships are not lost. Whether you're a parent or a grandparent, godfather or godmother, uncle or aunt, take the time to tell other family members, particularly the children, who you are, what your family stands for, and how much you care about them.

2. Storytelling Opportunities
When stories aren't recorded, some great storytelling material is lost. It's easy to read our children or grandchildren storybooks, but think about closing the Dr. Seuss book so you can tell them one of our own.

I was away on a trip recently and I decided that I wouldn't miss story time with my children that night. So I shared a piece of my story over the phone. They laughed as I recounted my family's Chicago trip to an exciting international stamp convention (14-year-olds love these kinds of events). All six of us slept in the family station wagon at the most convenient truck stop parking lot and ate Lucky Charms on the tailgate in the morning. Family stories can make for great bedtime or story time material. Reminiscences can contain all the material you need.

3. Values and Beliefs
Stories communicate life experiences and teach the next generation right from wrong. Without family stories, kids miss out on a foundation that could impact them the rest of their lives. Your family could have a long commitment to education or public service or faith. The knowledge of your family's values and beliefs is a foundation for their lives.

As M. Scott Peck pointed out, "Life is difficult." Stories can convey the need for courage when trials and difficulties are encountered. Through stories of war, financial hardships, losses of one kind or another and the larger societal battles over civil and women's rights, our children can see that family members faced and overcame challenges—even death.

Stories can teach how hard work, discipline and strength are needed to accomplish goals.

Real life stories, from your own life and the life of your grandparents and parents, could have a huge impact on the lives of your children and grandchildren as well as future generations. It's time to close the generation gap. Don't lose or forget your stories.