Gardening might be the country’s most popular hobby, but right behind it is, well, more roots and trees.
Over the past four decades, genealogy has transformed from a diversion for scholars and senior citizens to a national pastime, and it's now a hobby second only to gardening in popularity, according to Time. Why the upswing? There’s just something about family history and all the ways it can benefit you.
It’s a teaching moment for kids
Every child loves a good bedtime story, but when those stories center on ancestors, kids gain more than just sweet dreams. Learning about your family history and then teaching your children what you’ve found can help build a strong sense of identity. In fact, a 2010 study from Emory University found that “children who know stories about relatives who came before them show higher levels of emotional well-being.” According to the study, “there is something powerful about actually knowing these stories.”
It builds empathy
Getting to know your family history can open your eyes and your heart. As you learn stories of strength and resilience through hardships, you start to draw parallels between your life and those of your ancestors. At the RootsTech Conference in 2016, keynote speaker David Isay said, “the power to build bridges between people, bridges of understanding, is infinite.” Genealogy has a way of helping you see that, at the core, people aren’t so different after all.
It makes you healthier
Family history is a selfless endeavor, but that doesn’t mean you won’t reap the benefits directly. As you get to know your ancestors, you’ll gain important insights into their health and yours. Genealogy uncovers diseases and conditions that span generations and could affect your life.
According to Mayo Clinic, your health care provider can use your family medical history to assess your risk of certain diseases, determine which diagnostic or screening tests to order or identify other family members at risk for a disease, to name a few.
It keeps you connected
Names on a centuries-old census might seem impersonal to you, but imagine finding a cousin — or even sibling — you never knew. As you grow and expand your family tree, you’ll make countless connections, some with family members living today. In fact, you might just stumble upon photos, journals or other information on deceased ancestors submitted by your living relatives. That’s the beauty of genealogy; it connects your family — past and present.
You’ll get to know those you know
Sometimes, the people you know best, well, aren’t really. According to a Harris Poll survey, 28 percent of adults do not feel like they know, or knew, their mother as well as they would like. The same poll identified areas in which people would like more information on their mothers. These included her family history, personal history, medical history, life advice and career highlights. Genealogy isn’t just about finding your relatives; it’s also about getting to know those closest to you.
If you want to learn more about your family connections, sign up now for Rootstech 2019.