The witty humorist Mark Twain is believed to have said, “Why waste your money looking up your family tree? Just go into politics and your opponents will do it for you.” While there is certainly a good deal of truth to this amusing statement, it is also true that looking up one’s family tree is not a waste of money at all. Family history is an important part of our identity; the more we understand our heritage, the more we understand ourselves.
Family history provides an answer to the question, ‘where did I come from?’ Family reunions, for example, are often a great opportunity for grandparents to share stories about when they were growing up or for aunts and uncles to talk about favorite memories like sibling pranks or shared experiences. Building a family tree and tracing the family genealogy can be another great way to explore family history by showing roots.
Family history provides context. Knowing where you come from is crucial in helping you figure out where you’re going.
Here are some tips for exploring family history with your kids:
1. Discuss your ideas, hopes, and dreams for the future as a family.
2. Try a past tradition or resurrect an activity with your family that you did growing up.
3. Create a new tradition that can be passed down to the next generation.
Exploring family history with your kids can be a rewarding journey filled with meaning and significance. The best part is that as you explore your family history together, you’ll be creating family memories that can last a lifetime.
“There are only two lasting bequests we can give our children – one is roots, and the other, wings.” – Hodding S. Carter
Part one of a four part series on history.