The people in your family are likely some of the closest relationships you have. Even so, what do you know about your shared past? There have been generations of people before you that determined where you currently live and the traditions you practice. Here are a handful of important reasons to learn about your family history.
Develops Your Personal Identity
Diving into family history is not always the first thing on our minds, but when we do so, we often end up learning a lot about ourselves. Throughout life, there are critical moments of self-examination and introspection that change us one small increment at a time. Figuring out where you came from and how those influences shaped your childhood can reveal many things that you may take for granted. Your family history will help develop your personal identity by giving you roots in the world that you can easily explore. Your identity is continually evolving, but the foundations of your character and personality lie in your early childhood—when you likely spent lots of time with family.
Cultivates Family Community
All family connections wax and wane over time. Whether your family is estranged from you or intimately involved in your life, learning about your shared family history will bring you closer than ever before. There is something subtly and concretely uniting in shared experiences, especially in shared family history. When you work together as a family to unearth various names, stories, and information about your collective ancestry, you cultivate family community. After you finish the project or inquiry into your past, this community will still exist, and you can capitalize on this closeness in the years to come.
Connects You To Your Culture
Your family history is more than just the names of people who lived before you. It is also a shared culture that shapes and defines how you understand yourself and the world around you. Regardless of the ethnicity and geographical origin of your family, everyone has specific traditions and cultural practices that they uphold. Between food, communication, social hierarchy, gender and age norms, and ethics, your culture shapes you, and your family has a unique take on each of these factors. Though you may live in a more individualistic society where you establish norms for yourself, your family history and cultural heritage likely play a role in how you express your individuality, even if it is in stark contrast to how you grew up. Learning your family history helps you understand your family culture and traditions and allows you to preserve them for future generations.
Encourages Deeper Conversations
Deep conversations can be difficult among family members, especially when the people talking are of different ages or generations. However, diving into your family history creates opportunities for you to have meaningful dialogue with your loved ones. Ask your grandparents or parents about their own grandparents to get a picture of the people you may only have seen in photos or know by name. Deep conversations happen when you ask thoughtful questions, so inquire about the humor, character, occupations, hobbies, and lifestyle of past family members. In turn, this opens the door for you to talk about your own habits, hopes, and dreams with each other.
Allows for Story Sharing
Stories are a huge part of the human experience. Whether you watch factual news reports or read intergalactic science fiction, the narrative reflects the essence of our storied human lives. And these stories do not end with what you have in front of or around you. Ask about and listen to the stories of your family’s past—the harrowing journeys, meaningful moments, and heart-warming relationships. Stories keep past family members alive and allow you to hold onto valuable pieces of your family history. There is no substitute for these accounts, so be sure to pay attention. You can even take notes or record the stories to preserve them in full.
Makes Older Family Members Feel Significant
When you dive into your family history, you may need the help of your older relatives who have firsthand recollections of those who went before you. Asking them to share beloved memories or information about the people on your family tree will brighten their day. Older adults’ memories can fade over time, but the new memories of spending time with you will be as vibrant as day. Interactions with senior members of your family can be sparse or inconsistent, depending on your proximity to them, so make the most of each encounter and help them feel heard by listening to their stories about your family. Just like you had a childhood surrounded by parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, so did they. Take time out of your week to reach out to them and reminisce together.
Creates New Memories
Learning about your family history allows you to have important conversations, meet new people, and conduct research that you otherwise would never have done. These new memories are special, and you will cherish them for a lifetime. You can even pull all your research into a single memento, such as a personalized family tree with names like the ones we craft at Love Is A Rose. Sharing new experiences and past stories will further twine your lives together as a family.
Builds Character and Resilience
Sometimes, we can become so stuck in our present troubles that we forget the fortitude and strength of our past generations. There have always been disasters, hardships, and inconveniences that throw life off the rails. Your great-greats experienced similar situations as you. Looking back to your family history can give you a sense of strength that you would not have if you did not know about it. The resilience to push forward and hold fast amid painful storms can come from many places, but when you derive strength from your family, it feels more meaningful. For example, if you had relatives who lived through the Great Depression, you can rest assured that their financial troubles did not keep them from thriving as a family that ultimately grew to include you.
There are dozens of reasons to learn about your family history, but the truth of the matter is that none is more important than connection. Family unites you and dozens of other people you know and love—and some you may not even know about yet. There are so many doors to unlock and explore, so begin your journey into the past today. If you are looking for a keepsake to represent your family, reach out to us at Love Is A Rose for more information on our personalized family trees.