By Taralyn Parker

taralyn author pic

I believe with all my heart that knowing and sharing family stories can strengthen us when times are hard. When shelves were empty at the grocery store earlier this year, I thought of my ancestors in World War II Germany. The members of their congregation would gather when they could and share meals from canned meats and vegetables. When I think of those canned “feasts,” suddenly my pantry seems to have a multitude of options and the feeling of scarcity dissipates.

Knowing that my ancestral family persevered through their hardships reminds me that I can too. Thinking of my great-great-grandmother sending food packages across the ocean to family encourages me to share what I can to ensure no one in my community goes hungry as well.

Often I realize that my hard times are also accompanied by many blessings and modern conveniences that my ancestors could only dream of. Grocery store pick up, Amazon prime, Marco Polo, telehealth calls, access to healthcare, and more!

This perspective helps me to shift from a mindset of scarcity to abundance. That’s what I want for my children. The ability to recognize not only the hardship but the blessings that will help us live with and/or move through those hardships.

Research from Emory University indicates that children who know more about their family tree are more resilient in the face of life’s challenges. But how do we share these stories with our children without it coming across as a lecture? For several years I have been curating ideas through trial and error with my own children (ages 13 to 3). While talking about what life was like for our ancestors as children in the midst of a disagreement will surely be met with eye rolls, I found other times seemed to hold the secret sauce.

kid doing genealogy at a computer

Preparing a family recipe (especially if it is a treat!) is the perfect time to share a story about a great-grandma.

A game of catch in the back yard became the perfect segue into a conversation about their great-great-grandfather the record-breaking track star.

A shared parent/child journal became a fun way to share thoughts and concerns.

Late-night bed-time stories are a fun opportunity to sprinkle in family stories.

Now that back to school time is here, I am incorporating more family stories – funny, inspiring, and even sad – into our day to day learning. My family history friends and I have compiled 28 pages of easy family history activities. It includes some awesome printables and the best part – it is free. Just click on the family history guide in this blog post which also includes some of my favorite ways to connect with my children through family history.

What has brought your family closer together this year? Do you have a favorite way to learn about family history together? What stories from your ancestors’ have inspired you? Tell us in the comments!

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