Mention family history, and then hear family members muttering that family history is boring and they don’t want to learn about it.
Janet Hovorka’s book, “Zap The Grandma Gap: Connect with Your Family by Connecting Them to Their Family History” (FamilyChartMasters, $23.95) is full of suggestions on how parents and grandparents can help engage their families in family history.
1. Don’t dump info; make family history relate to them
Don’t dump every piece of information you know about family history and expect them to remember and love it. Instead, use stories from the past that correlate with current events, hobbies and interests in their lives. Showing somebody how they are like their ancestors helps personalize family history and sparks their interest to know more.
2. Surround them with visuals and heirlooms from the past
As family members sees tangible evidence that they can associate with an ancestor, that ancestor transcends from simply being a name and becomes an actual living person. Place family pictures on the walls and displaying heirlooms throughout a home can help with this.
3. Start teaching them about family history early and make it fun
Start when family members are young and make it fun and engaging. One example of a fun activity is making paper dolls to represent each ancestor and acting out stories that really happened in their lives. There are many games and activities parents and grandparents can do to make family history a part of a family's lives. But whatever you do make it fun.
Family history can be a great way of connecting your family and zapping the generation gap, Hovorka writes. As family history becomes a fun and prevalent part of the home’s décor and activities, children and grandchildren will stop thinking that family history is boring and start loving it themselves, she adds.
Danica Baird attends Brigham Young University and is pursuing a double major in English and journalism.