What Would Your Ancestors Do?

How often do you talk about your family history with your children or with others?  Do you draw upon it as a source of strength?  It can be!  Studies have found that the more children – and I freely extrapolate that to include all of us – know about their family history, the higher their self-esteem and the better able they are to handle stress.  Why is that so and how can we tap into that history today?

We are wired to connect

Having story time with children or sharing stories of your family with friends creates connections, not only between those sitting together today but with those who came before you.  I used to love hearing stories of how my dad grew up – how his day began with milking a cow (he hated that cow!); life when he was a boy; and the excitement he experienced when he was accepted into a school deep in the heart of downtown Atlanta.  Attending that school meant walking a long distance, taking buses, and leaving home very early to get to school on time.  It meant getting home late in the evening. He showed great discipline and determination, hallmarks of who he was.  That inspired me!

We learn to persevere and to be resilient

Attending that school changed my father’s life.  Learning about turning points in our relative’s lives assists us when we experience a turning point.  We feel a connection with them.  When we learn how they dealt with challenges, how they persevered, and that things were not easy AND they turned out well, we grow in our resilience.  We persevere.  We view challenges as places to rise. 

We experience gratitude

None of us are alone on our path.  We are all supported by everyone who came before us, from the roads we drive on, the infrastructure in our world, the knowledge base, and the systems in place.  We inherit these from the efforts of people who lived their lives and are living their lives.  We also are uniquely gifted with the results of the efforts of our relatives.  Tracing back, telling stories, and seeing those gifts provide an amazing sense of support.  From understanding the lives of our relatives, we can develop deep gratitude and a sense of belonging. 

We become a part of something larger than ourselves

By seeing the impact of the lives of our relatives who came before us, we see something larger than ourselves.   We see a network of support.  We see a tribe.  We also see the impact that our lives can have on others who will come after us.  We become a part of that network ourselves!

What if you adopted your children or your parents adopted you?

The connections are not about biology.  They are about family.  It can include both family and biological family.  It can begin with your child’s adoption story.  I used to love hearing my mother tell me mine.  It was about meeting me for the first time, the incredible day they brought me home, and what all of our relatives contributed to that day.  My grandfather got my crib.  My brother made a book of pennies as a gift to welcome me.  Everyone was bursting with love.  You can also draw upon your biological history if it is available to you.  I have benefited from those stories and details.  I feel strongly that everyone who comes into their family through adoption has a right to their biological information.

What does this all mean?

This doesn’t mean that you need to dive into a genealogical study.  This is about the stories that you know, have experienced, and have heard.  It is your family lore.  Talk to your parents, grandparents, and other relatives.  Write down stories or record your relatives as they share about their life.  That is the treasure!

Share your family lore

You can share tidbits or a full blown saga.  Begin listening to the stories your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins share.  I am committing to sharing more in my family! 

These stories will make you and your children buoyant, resilient, and deeply connected!