In­spir­ing Chil­dren

Janet Few ex­plains some straight­for­ward steps for shar­ing your love of fam­ily his­tory with the next gen­er­a­tion, from tod­dlers to teenagers

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Janet Few ex­plains how to get the next gen­er­a­tion into their fam­ily his­tory, from tod­dlers to teenagers

Many ge­neal­o­gists re­gret that their younger rel­a­tives show no in­ter­est in fam­ily his­tory. This is some­thing that we must work to over­come, be­cause the ben­e­fits are sur­pris­ingly wide-rang­ing.

Re­search by Mar­shall Duke, an Amer­i­can pro­fes­sor of psy­chol­ogy, has found that chil­dren who have a good sense of their per­sonal his­tory are likely to be more re­silient, have higher self­es­teem and be bet­ter able to deal with stress: all ex­cel­lent rea­sons for us to en­cour­age young peo­ple to take an in­ter­est.

We also ben­e­fit if the chil­dren around us share our pas­sion for ge­neal­ogy. Not only may they be­come the will­ing cus­to­di­ans of all our lov­ingly gath­ered in­for­ma­tion when we pass away, but there is im­mense plea­sure to be had from shar­ing a hobby we love with our loved ones.

Age- Ap­pro­pri­ate Think­ing

You may feel that young peo­ple live for the mo­ment and are not in­ter­ested in fam­ily his­tory, or in­deed any as­pect of times gone by. With many other dis­trac­tions lay­ing claim to their at­ten­tion, we need to seek age-ap­pro­pri­ate ways to in­spire young peo­ple to be­come cu­ri­ous about the past in gen­eral and their own her­itage in par­tic­u­lar. Chil­dren won’t mag­i­cally be­come fully com­mit­ted fam­ily his­to­ri­ans overnight, com­plete with an avid in­ter­est in data­bases and re­search tech­niques. Yet young peo­ple can be en­cour­aged to share our pas­sion for our an­ces­tors. We need to build upon the chil­dren’s ex­ist­ing in­ter­ests, or the sub­jects they are study­ing at school, and re­late these to fam­ily his­tory. The most im­por­tant point to re­mem­ber is that they may want to ‘do’ fam­ily his­tory, but they are very un­likely to want to do things our way.

The ideas on the fol­low­ing pages re­quire a small amount of plan­ning and some ex­tra ef­fort, but when the chil­dren in your life ask “Can we do some fam­ily his­tory?”, you will know that it has all been worth­while.

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