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

Monday, October 6, 2014

#MeetMyGrandma and Why It Matters

Recently, FamilySearch launched a campaign titled #MeetMyGrandma.  The goal was for youth to gather stories from or about their grandparents and then enter those stories in their family tree on FamilySearch.  The campaign officially ran from September 20th to September 30th.  Family Search set the goal of gathering 10,000 stories in 10 days.  As of October 5th, the counter on the website states "15,075 Stories and still counting..."  That is impressive.

This was more than just a slick campaign to encourage young people to gather stories and use the FamilySearch website.  FamilySearch launched an app to help with the process and offered up 20 questions to help get the conversation rolling.  Apparently one young person discovered that Grandma loved skydiving.  Say what?!  But how would that ever come up in conversation, if you think about it, without a pointed conversation were a young person specifically asks a grandparent to express his or her interests?  I'm not sure about you but I don't think my grandma would be the type to sit around the dinner table and randomly say, "That reminds me of the time I went skydiving."  Maybe if I had a grandma who was the type to go skydiving she would say that?  Hard to imagine in my family..

The ultimate goal of the campaign was to involve youth in gathering precious family stories and facts "before it's too late," either from their grandparents directly or from someone else with first hand knowledge of their grandparents.  And then, of course, to document those facts and stories.  Besides the fact that we're all family historians here, why does this matter?  Well, as it so happens, I've been sharing research over on The Chart Chick that is scientifically proving how effective ancestor salience (the act of being immersed in an ancestor's life) is in benefitting a person's life.  The study I am discussing right now, The Ancestor Effect, specifically tested the impact of just thinking about an ancestor.  Part III of the series actually looks at how it isn't thinking about people in general (even people you love and care for deeply) that affects a person's sense of personal control and ability, but rather thinking about ancestors specifically that does that.  It turns out that knowing something (anything) about an ancestor, near or far, has a profound effect on personal expectations and intellectual ability.  Please be sure to also look at Part I and Part II of the study in order to see the benefits of focusing on our ancestors.  It makes a profound impact on our youth, intellectually and emotionally.

So, in the end, there are many more positives to the #MeetMyGrandma campaign than simply recording family stories.  It has the power to give our children and grandchildren a better sense of personal control (internal locus of control), self-esteem, and intellectual capabilities.  Knowing and sharing family stories is a way to arm our youth with positive and effective tools that allow them to succeed in their personal, academic, and eventually, professional endeavors.  I keep calling it a "genetic superpower" because there is no better way to think of it.  Sharing family stories and family history with our youth empowers them and strengthens them in a way that insures their personal success.  And now, we have the science to back us up when we tell them how important it is for them to engage with us in our family history! :)

*Original story on the #MeetMyGrandma campaign:

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