How Understanding Your Family's History Benefits the Entire Family

September 29, 2022

by carol evenson, guest contributor

You may have rolled your eyes at the stories your parents and grandparents shared when you were a kid. They seemed distant; you didn't know why they felt the need to share. However, you probably look back fondly now, hearing their voices and remembering the details. You probably cook a traditional meal or two or celebrate a significant occasion. 

How influential is the past to the present? Does it matter whether you share stories about your family's culture and history? It does. Family history plays a prominent role in shaping someone's identity, emotional growth and social awareness. If you haven't made the time to learn about your family's past, now is the time. Get the family together. The following are several reasons to make it a priority. 

1. It Helps With Emotional Growth

Many adults complain that kids these days "don't get it."  They feel entitled and disconnected from the world. They have grown up in an age of social media and technology, focused on selfies and social posts. Are they focusing on social and emotional growth? Parents may find that family history helps complete that hole, allowing kids to mature and better understand the world.

Spend time with your youth. Pull up the 1950 census records and discuss what happened at the time. Learn about what family members did to overcome obstacles. The information becomes important in understanding difficulties. In addition, the conversations encourage mature talks and awareness, helping kids realize that there is more than their own lives.

2. You Can Find Fun Ways To Celebrate Your Culture

Over time, some traditions get lost or changed. When you dive into your family history, you unearth a wealth of information, including what people did during holidays and various times of the year. Did someone follow a different religion? Did they make it a habit to participate in certain organizations or celebrate specific days? These details lead to conversations about current traditions and open up possibilities for new activities and meals.

Did you find out that you had relatives from a country you didn't know about? Start to research dishes and cultural events. Have fun planning a family day to dive into that background. It's a fun way to be together and experience something different.

3. It Helps Inform Future Medical Decisions

Genetics plays a significant role in health. People often see repeated patterns in medical conditions. Families may have a risk of diabetes or heart disease. In addition, some people may find that cancer runs in the family. Understanding your family tree allows you to see what others endured and how it impacted their lives. You may become aware of something you didn't know about. This information could enable you to work with medical professionals to discuss potential health risks, implement steps to minimize risks, and begin preventative measures.

For instance, does colon cancer run in the family tree? Your doctors may ask you to begin testing earlier than usual, hoping to catch issues early. 

4. You Build Identity

Knowing who and where you came from helps establish a sense of identity. Psychology Today emphasizes that your interactions, values and "sense of self" play a critical role. In addition, it involves understanding the past and how your culture influences your present. Family history helps build that identity, providing connections to religions, countries and traditions. It helps establish meaning and encourages kids to feel they have a place within society.

When you sit around and discuss their grandparents' success or interests, they see how their past is essential. They may also learn that people have a place in the world, seeing value and worth in themselves.

Don't underestimate the intrinsic importance of family history lessons. It's more than a personal pastime. This information and these moments prove valuable to the entire family's growth and place in the world. Make the past important. Share these stories. They form connections, discuss how to find strength and provide significant information for the future.

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