Tuesday, August 26, 2008

How to share your family history with your family.--How?

Before we get into particulars, there are some basic principles about sharing your family history with your family. Two main things you have to think about:
  • Know your ancestors.
    ›Start with what you know but don’t wait until you feel like you know everything.

  • Know your family members.
    ›Know their attention span.
    ›Know what interests and hobbies they have.
    ›Have a good relationship with them.

My grandfather, bless his heart, would sit the grandkids down when I was about 8 (I was the oldest grandchild) and have a "talk" with us. He did the former but he didn't do so well with the latter. I remember being really squirmy and I don't remember anything he said, except that it was important to him and I was supposed to sit still. What I would give to be able to have a talk like that with him now--but my attention span is different now.

Now, some more specific principles about how to get going:

  • Start with an attention getter.
    ›If you make it boring it will be
    ›Photos, games, stories are generally good places to start.
  • Don’t underestimate their abilities and interest level.
  • Leave them something to figure out.
  • Don’t lecture.
  • Every little encounter is a little more they know about their family.
  • When one comes, others will follow.
If you are excited about it, and if you have a good relationship, they will be more inclined be excited about family history too.

But the biggest rule about sharing your family history with your family is:
If you make it part of your life, and they are involved with your life, it can come naturally. It doesn't have to be an event (although it can be). Teaching your family about your family's history can be a way of life that evolves over time--something you just are because you know where you come from.

Get ready. Lots of ideas to come...

1 comment:

Terry Thornton said...


Great advice that "biggest rule" of yours. Coming to family research late in life I'm amazed and thrilled at the numbers in my family now interested in our common family history --- and we share and learn from each other in this quest for additional knowledge about our ancestors as if we've been doing it for decades rather than just a few years.

It pleases me that my enthusiasm seems to be contagious and several family members who heretofore never showed an interest in family history are now searching and learning along with me.

Terry Thornton