Knowing Your Family History May Be Good for Your Kids and Grandkids
According to Emory University researchers, “children who know stories about relatives who came before them show higher levels of emotional well-being.”
In other words, kids who know more about their family history are inclined to be more emotionally resilient than children who are deprived of such information. A child who feels like they are part of something larger than themselves – such as a family – have a greater sense of their “inter-generational self.”
Some of us Baby Boomers received a large dose of family history when we were growing up. We were raised with grandparents nearby, but today, fewer children have this opportunity. Their grandparents are states – if not countries – away.
October is Family History Month. What a great time this is to teach your kids about their family. It is a wonderful time to get outdoors, and it is also a great month to visit a battlefield or a cemetery. Below are a few suggestions!
Go to Your Roots
Take a road trip back to your old home place, or your home town, or plan a trip if it is too far away to drive there. When you reach your destination, tell your kids about what it was like growing up there. Share the funny, the embarrassing and the sweet stories that you remember.
My husband Chuck and I just spent a week with our oldest grandson, Lucas. We had a great time visiting places from our past, including the house where Chuck lived before he went to college.
Chuck also took Lucas by one of his favorite fishing places, Sebastian Inlet in Florida. We also visited the house where we lived when Lucas’s father was born. For Chuck visiting those places made his memories flow.
Share Stories About Growing Up in Your Decade
What was it like to grow up in the 60s, 70s or 80s of the past century? How was it different from today?
Take your children by a favorite swimming hole that you visited as a child, and explain its importance in your life. I took my children to the Wacissa River, where there is still an old rope swing. While there, I reminisced about the real value this place had for us when there were no nearby swimming pools for our use.
Go to a Cemetery
Visit the graves of an ancestor, maybe your grandparents, or it might even be your parents. Tell them stories about your memories of their lives.
I have fond memories of walking through my hometown’s city graveyard with my grandmother who was 58 years older than me. She pointed out graves of people in her life and told me amazing stories about them.
Remember Your Old School?
Visit the old school where you grew up, and tell your children how it was different from theirs. Describe your routines, classes and teachers, and perhaps share a funny story or two.
A Tribute to Military Relatives
If you had a relative who served in the military, it could be a good idea to visit a war monument. Share with your children stories about your mother, grandmother, father or grandfather who fought in the Middle East, Vietnam, Korea or one of the world wars.
Several years ago, I took each of my nieces on what I called an ‘Old Florida’ vacation. Included in the itinerary though were several visits to old family homes and cemeteries.
They learned about their grandparents who passed away when the girls were very young. One of their grandmothers was my mother, and I told them the stories that she told me about our family.
It was a wonderful trip, and I got to know my nieces well during our time together. I was determined that they should know about their family and about their home state. In the process, I made memories with my nieces that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
So, plan a trip with your children, nephews and nieces. Or, if you are as old as I am, your grandchildren. A Family History trip, even if it is only for an afternoon, can create strong family bonds that will last a lifetime.
Have you ever taken a “Family History” trip with any of your young relatives? Have you ever taken an afternoon to explain your family legacy to your grandchildren? Please join the conversation below.
Native Floridian Cindy Roe Littlejohn blogs at the Old Age Is Not For Sissies, where life is good and every day is an adventure. At 62 she is healthy, married, a mother to three, and grandmother of six. She is an author and writer, a tree farmer, and a retired lobbyist. She loves to travel on old trails, garden, do genealogy, spend time in the outdoors, and spend time with her family. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org