Capturing special moments of our children through pictures and home movies is a must; the first time they walk, eat solid food, school plays. Along with these important milestones in their little lives, we want to have a recorded history that involves family members. As parents, educating our children about family history is, by far, one of the most important lessons.
We just returned from a wonderful Maine vacation. Complete with my sons first road trip, a special wedding at a family home and great quality time with my husband and son, it was chock full of memories. We will always remember this vacation and how the summer before, pregnant at this house we adore, we pictured being there for our cousin’s wedding with our new son or daughter. All of a sudden, he we are. The wedding, the special home and our son, almost 1 year old already.
On the other hand, Jack will not remember any of this vacation spent with his family. For that matter, he won’t remember much from his early childhood and although this is par for the course, it still seems kind of sad.
Picture after picture, video after video, we captured moments from the vacation, especially ones that involve his family members. We want Jack to grow up recognizing and remembering these people and special family pets, and although it will take a long time for him to make the connections and understand the meaning of aunt, uncle, cousin, etc, it is never too young to start.
We plan to start a family bulletin board for Jack. It will be ever changing and will include people in his life and our lives. Unfortunately, we cannot live near all of our friends and family but that does not make them any less important. Pictures are a great way to let your children know that family is always around you, no matter how close or far. Throughout the year, as we collect pictures from special times, fun weekends with family and friends and holiday cards, we will add them to the board. Although he is still young, we will continue to point out everyone by name and hope that as Jack grows up, he will begin to recognize everyone on his own.
Every family can do this; create a space in your home to keep pictures of the important people in your life. Talk to your children, even if you aren’t sure that they are understanding – because one day, it will make sense to them. As they grow, these conversations will develop and change. Discuss your family history by explaining how each relative is related to one another. Start simple with Grandpa and Grandma are mom’s parents, just like you have parents. These concepts get more complicated so using a family tree with pictures is a great way to help them understand where they come from and who they are. Showing them pictures and videos of time spent together will make it even more clear. Yes, they will laugh at us, make fun of our clothes and question why we put them in those outfits. In response, we will threaten to show everything to their future girl/boyfriends. Isn’t that par for the course as well?!
Even as adults, we should still ask our parents questions about our history. Learn as much as you can so you can pass along the knowledge and stories. Encourage other relatives to share memories. Each person has a different perspective on history and often, they each have keepsakes from the family. Documents, jewelry and old photographs all contribute to learning about your family. The more you share with your children, the more connected they will feel towards their own relatives. We hope that as our children become adults, they will continue these traditions with children of their own.
I wrote an article for my local newspaper about the same topic and included a book recommendation with some great family friendly activities- click here!
Amanda is one smart mommy! With a B.S. in Business Administration and a M.S.T. in Elementary Education, this super-mom was inspired to continue her work in the education field while still fulfilling her motherly duties – WOW. Visit Amanda’s blog at TheMommaFiles to get tips and advice on all things education, family and more!