Have you ever thought about your family history? Do you find it’s important to connect with your roots? How much do you even know about your own parents? Just by letting your parents and grandparents open up to you, you can learn about important childhood memories, funny stories of their dating history, significant work achievements and favorite jobs, their view on aging, words of wisdom to share with future children and grandchildren, and especially health issues that may be common with family members and life-threatening disease diagnoses.
Sharing your family history keeps the lines of communication between generations open, and ensures that important information like genetic health factors are not lost. But there are other reasons that it’s important to share your family history:
Knowing your family tree helps your family better understand your origins, which could have important practical uses for the future. For instance, you may have a child who wants to go to university abroad or wants to apply for a unique scholarship. Their application could be facilitated by information held in your family tree (an ancestor from another country or with native lineage, perhaps).
Identifying the people in old family pictures is important for your family records.
There have been studies that show that children who have more knowledge of their family history show greater emotional resilience and are able to face stress and challenges more effectively.
These same studies revealed that children who have the most self-confidence have a strong “intergenerational self,” which means they know they belong to something bigger than themselves.
Telling stories about your family is a great way to spend quality time together.
Sharing your family history can be as easy as sharing stories that are funny, interesting, or just important to your family and its identity. Stories that give context to your family values are also important to keep alive. These could include stories like:
Challenges that your family has faced (and overcome) together
Circumstances under which children were born (at home on a farm, or snowy, stormy, nights)
Family memories (fishing, making bread, playing music etc.)
Family members who are missed (whether these are family members who live in another country or who have passed away, it’s important to share memories of them so they are not forgotten)
Family members you are proud of (a great aunt who was active in the civil rights movement, a parent who came to America to build a better life for the family, an uncle who went to war)
How couples in the family met
Reasons your family has moved
Successes that your family has enjoyed together
Where great grandparents, grandparents or parents grew up
Learning about family history is important. It is essential to understanding ourselves and preserving family history. Family history helps to keep memories alive and allows each generation to have an idea of who they are and where they come from.