According to research Knowing Your Family History May Be Good For Your Kids
“Children who know stories about relatives who came before them show higher levels of emotional well-being…”, according to Emory University researchers. In other words, kids who know more about their family history are inclined to turn out to be more emotionally resilient than children who don’t. You can read more about the research here.
A child who feels like they are part of something larger than themselves—such as a family—gives kids a greater sense of their “intergenerational self.” Some of us Baby Boomers had a large dose of this when we were growing up. We grew up with grandparents nearby, but today fewer children have this opportunity. Their grandparents are states if not countries away.
October is Family History Month, and what a great time to teach your kids about their family. It is a wonderful time to get outdoors, and it is also a great time to visit a battlefield, a cemetery, or an old family swimming hole.
Below are a few suggestions on how to make sure your children learn about their family history!
1. Take a road trip back to your old home place, or your hometown, or plan a trip if your hometown is too far away. While there, tell them about what it was like growing up there. Share the funny, the embarrassing, and the sweet stories that you remember.
My husband and I just spent a week with our oldest grandson, and Chuck took him to where he lived before he went to college. Chuck also took him by one of his favorite fishing places, Sebastian Inlet in Florida; and the house where he lived when Lucas’s father was born. For Chuck visiting those places made his memories flow.
2. Share stories about growing up in your decade. What was it like? 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 spring and reminisced about how important this place was to us when there were no nearby swimming pools for our use.
3. 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 stories about them. Some were amazing stories.
4. Visit the old school where you grew up and tell them how it was different from theirs.
5. Visit a war monument, and tell them about your mother, grandmother, father or grandfather who fought in one of the Middle Eastern wars, Vietnam, Korean 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, family picnic favorites, vacation sights, 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, but 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; 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.