Thursday, January 28, 2016

Tales of Your Roots

Tales of Your Roots

This week Moonlit Minds suffered the loss of a dear grandparent.  And while in the days following there has been sadness in our hearts, there was also a lot of joy.  For one thing, we got to spend time with family members we hadn't seen in years.  We looked through a lot of wonderful old photos.  And most of all, we told a lot of stories.

Humans have been telling stories about their ancestors for thousands of years as a way to pass this history on to the next generation.  Before written languages, this was the only way.  However, these days it feels like the telling of these family stories is somewhat of a lost art.  We have a lot more ways of entertaining ourselves than ever before, and it seems like less and less time to do so.  But I can remember as a child sitting at the dinner table listening to my parents, uncles, aunts, and grandparents tell these stories again and again.  I've always been fascinated by our connection to the past and loved hearing how similar or different I was to these relatives.  The stories were like a window into the past, and it was a thrill to look through it.

For many years now I've been working to capture stories, documents, and photos for our family tree.  (We use, a collaborative online family tree.)  With our recent loss, I'm even more invigorated to keep gathering all these artifacts.  But there's still something extra special about the word-of-mouth preservation of a family's history.  And I have found great comfort in knowing I can keep part of a loved-one alive by retelling their special story.

Tell Your Tales

For tonight's quiet, thoughtful Moonlit Minds activity, tell one or two of your favorite family stories to your child.  Some ideas to get you started:
  • Family stories range from funny to exciting to tragic to the mundane.
  • Find a story that you really connect with and your child will probably connect with it too.
  • Describe the people as you remember them or how you've heard them described.
  • Explain what they mean/meant to you.
  • Talk about how things were different back then.  Paint a picture with the details.
  • Help your child understand his/her roots by connecting the people back to him/her.
  • If you can't think of any stories, ask a relative for some ideas. 
  • Tell your child what your family and family history means to you.

Related Thoughts

First: We love this poem from Listening to the Littlest, by Ruth Reardon:
Where did I come from?
And you?
Knowing there were grandmas far, far, back
(and grandmas I can be with now).
Knowing there are cousins, aunts, and uncles
gives me a feeling of belonging.
Of being a part of something older,
something wider,
something safe.
I feel important.
Second: These two articles are about how important it is to tell family stories because according to research done by Bruce Feiler, having a higher level of family knowledge is "associated with higher levels of self-esteem, an internal locus of control (a belief in one's own capacity to control what happens to him or her), better family functioning, lower levels of anxiety, fewer behavioral problems, and better chances for good outcomes if a child faces educational or emotional/behavioral difficulties."

Third: Sparkle Stories has a fantastic series we highly recommend called Martin and Sylvia's Family Tree of Stories.  "This audiobook will inspire your children (and you) to seek out and collect childhood stories from all generations – so they can not only see where they come from, but bring family lessons into their own life."

Final Word

We just wanted to end tonight by thanking everyone who has been reading and sharing our blog and activities.  It's been such an honor to become part of your family traditions.  Tell us about your experiences with telling family stories in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook.

All the best and...Mind the nap!

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