Monday, January 16, 2012

The 6 basic principles of sharing your family history with your children.

I've got a bunch of videos we've been editing from how things went over Christmas. I can't wait to show you Mom and Dad's reaction to the kids' family history present for them and how it went when we took everyone to the library to start verifying these records. So stay tuned for that. 15-year-old boy is editing the videos and I'm trying to get him to repress the perfectionist in his nature or you'd never see them. But as much as I want you to see them, I want him to do it himself more, so you'll have to be patient.

In the meantime I have a section of my new book for you. Likewise coming soon. Here's a sneak peek. The 6 basic principles of sharing your family history with your children.

  • If you make it boring it will be boring. Start with an attention getter and make sure you are a good story teller. Anyone would be interested in seeing a picture of their great-grandfather who looked just like them. And any child would like to see his grandfather's school report card when he was their age. All children will listen to stories about the trouble their mother got into as a child. Start with photos, games, or engaging stories if you want your family to be interested in what you have to tell them about their family's past.
  • Don't underestimate their abilities and interest level. Working with children, I've been consistently amazed at how much interest they had even when I didn't expect it. When you expect them to be interested, but keep in mind their attention level, you will find that they will surprise you with their excitement about their history. If they aren't all that interested, return to the paragraph above and analyze the way you are presenting it to them.
  • You may not inspire a self proclaimed genealogist but you will have a child that knows about their family history. While your children or grandchildren my not identify themselves as a genealogist, they may still grow up knowing alot about their family of origin. Any child can benefit from the blessings of family history whether they become a zealot for the cause or not. Each time they encounter their family's history more and more of the benefits of knowing their past will come into play in their lives.
  • Teaching about family history is a lifestyle, not a single event. Every little encounter children have with their family history is a little more they know about their past. Encounters can be as small as a comment or as large as a full scale family event. But over the course of time, big and small encounters with family history add up to a foundational knowledge about where the family came from and a more developed sense of self for the child.
  • Family history is best passed down when you know the family members you are trying to involve. Know the attention span of the children you are working with. Know how they approach problems and what frustrates them. Know what interests and hobbies they have that might tie in to a project you want to do. Find a characteristic they have in common with an ancestor. When you bring the family history to the child rather than try to bring the child to family history, your child's connection will be much stronger and easier to forge.
  • If you are excited about it, and if you have a good relationship, they will be more inclined to be excited about their family history too. My kids joke that when they work on family history with me they get in my "good zone." They know that I am passionate about it, and they know that I love it when they get involved. They know that after working on family history with me, they can talk me into many privileges that I might have otherwise said no to because I trust that their souls are fed and I can trust them more with other aspects of their lives. Hopefully they will come away from our time together with a love for family history because they love me. I know they have already developed a love for family history because they love their grandparents. And hopefully their experiences with family history will be associated with joy because their mother was so happy with them when they were working on it.

Like my Great Grandfather Joseph Hatten Carpenter said, "One arises from the study of genealogy with a clearer and more charitable conception of the whole brotherhood of man." Who wouldn't want to inspire that in their kids?


Dana said...

I attended the same Manti Center Ward that met in the old Manti Tabernacle as your great grandfather J. Hatten Carpenter and clearly remember him bearing his testimony every month for many years. It was as though there was an unwritten program that listed this fine, elderly gentleman first "testimony bearer"; then the rest would be inspired to follow. I believe he passed away at the age of 105? Thanks for your interesting article. I have been looking for some ideas to get my grandchildren interested in family history.

FranE said...

Sharing with my daughters. Thanks. : )

Unknown said...

Those are really great suggestions. I just shared my first power point presentation and I was suprised how interested and fun it was!!

Unknown said...

These are really great suggestions! I just shared my first power point presentation with my kiddos and it was so fun and interesting for them. My 15-year old had great tips for helping me get to know power point and he is taking a group to the Family history center. Yeah!!