Connect To The Youth In Your Family By Connecting Them To Their Family History

Thursday, August 8, 2013


I've been recognizing something in my kids that I think is a real key to creating family historians in your own family--especially when there are other family historians in the family.  That is OWNERSHIP. I'm having a hard time putting my kids in control but they need to feel that control so that they aren't always waiting for me to give them permission.  Of course this is something that will grow as they mature, and you need to keep in mind the maturity level of the child, but I'm finding that you can really hold someone back if they don't have their own sense of ownership. 

That can come in many forms.  Maybe digital files, maybe actual artifacts.  And I have yet to figure out the perfect way to share--we are working on avenues through Ancestry, FamilySearch and My Heritage.  I know that it has to be source centric in order for the more advanced researcher to feel comfortable working with the beginner.  But I know from observing my own family that you can really hold someone back by not giving them ownership of their family history.  And you can really spur them on if they do feel they have ownership. 

So here is one of the emails that goes out with our Zap The Grandma Gap emails.  Have you registered for them yet?  When you register they start with week one and send you one idea every Tuesday for 52 weeks.  This one appears about 1/2 way through the year.  You can sign up on the front page at  Lots of great ideas.  Take a look:


I have an idea for you this week that might work in the short term, or might take a little longer to come to fruition in your family. It has worked in my family, and even worked well in my own life.
Have you given your family members a sense of ownership in their family history? Feeling like one doesn't know where to start can be compounded when a person feels like there is a gatekeeper on a project and they don't really feel a part of what is going on. If you have done a lot of family history, you may inadvertently be acting as gatekeeper and stopping them from really getting involved in their family history for themselves. The solution? Give them something of their own.
This has worked particularly well in my family and really is one of the main reasons I became a genealogist myself. When my grandfather published his book about his father, he gave one to each member of the family. Even though I was only eight years old, he entrusted me with my very own copy of the book. While I didn't instantly turn into a genealogist, that book worked on me over the years and has come to be one of my prized possessions. Recently, I've seen much more interest in my children when I've given them their own copies of a genealogy computer file, made a scrapbook just for them, or shared some digitized pictures. As they grow, I'm excited to entrust them with more of our family history artifacts.
Ownership may be as simple as sharing a computer file, or presenting someone with their own copy of a book. Or it may be as huge as passing down an heirloom or entrusting them with original pictures. What can you do this week to encourage a budding family historian in your family with some ownership of their own?
Hopefully you have been able to put to use some of the ideas in these emails. You are always welcome to email me with questions or suggestions. I love to hear from you and celebrate the successes in your family.

Good luck this week.

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