How can we help our children feel a part of something bigger than themselves? How can we help them know how important they are to our families? I’ve been pondering these questions a lot this year. I want my children connected to who they really are, connected to our family, connected to their grandparents, connected to their cousins, connected to ancestors – so connected that they know an entire host of people are loving them and cheering them on.
Through trial and error, I’ve pieced together these ideas for my family. I try to weave our family’s history into moments connected to our daily activities. Maybe they will resonate with you?
1. Meet your children where they’re at. Family history starts with each of us as individuals. Tell them about where their name came from. Use the “compare a face” activity on Family Search (https://www.familysearch.org/discovery/compare). Help them discover about themselves and how they fit into the family.
2. Meet them where it matters to them. Look at what they’re interested in. Do they like bedtime stories? Is there something with technology? If they like Minecraft have them build a replica of an ancestral home or a significant building. My daughter did this with her great-great-grandfather’s home – it was so much fun!
3. Meet them at the mileposts. Every day we have mileposts: things that are happening every single day. For example, when the kids get home from school, bedtime, mealtimes. Put stories or photos under a clear plastic tablecloth on your kitchen table. Tell bedtime stories with family stories mixed in. A motherhood mentor once told me that if I wanted to make a habit stick, I should attach it to something I already do every day.
4. Meet them in the moment. Look for those teachable moments where it’s easy to slip in that family history. For example, we visited the Park City Museum, and my son found an exhibit for a telephone switch operator. It had a fun game where you connected the lights and the wires just like a telephone operator would have, and he loved it because he had to beat the buzzer. I remembered that my husband’s grandma had been a switchboard operator. So, I said “Cort, what fast fingers you have, maybe you got those fast fingers from Grandma, Jo. Did you know this was her job?”
As we sprinkle in these stories and memories, I hope we feel more connected to something bigger than ourselves!