Is genealogy for kids? YES! Especially, in fact.
When I talk to my kids about genealogy, Chances are that they’re all sitting in a circle in the living room. And at first they’re bored & whining. They can’t wait til it’s over to run to their video games. But then mom makes it good! Mom makes it funny, mom makes it seem real, mom makes them feel proud. Their identities are developing right now & it is directly related to their overall well-being.
If all you have are names & photos of tombstones to show them then, yes, it is boring. What I choose to have my kids to sit in on is the particularly interesting stuff. They enjoy hearing about battle locations that their ancestors were at, what rank they held & they can even get to imagining how it all went over. I told of a battle where our soldiers had the element of surprise because we came up from behind a mountain when the enemy expected us to come up the frontmost direct route. They didn’t think we would be coming from back there to shoot them in the butts. We (wIt’s our grandfathers help) came up & wiped them out from the rear! Well, when you put it THAT WAY, your kids are in the palm of your hand waiting to hear more. I then talk about what would have been our fate if they did not fight that battle at all or if we didn’t win, I’d we were the ones who were shot in the butt. And some battles, they didn’t win. And some soldiers never come home. After the laugh, because kids laugh at anything to do with butts. (We get serious for just a minute & discuss why war is sad for everybody, etc.)
I have noticed that my kids are glowing with a new shade of pride after a quick 15 minute history pitch. A sense of BELONGING here in America. They understand that their grandfathers fought that war, handed us an established country where just being born on this soil gives you privilege. They understand that we have every right to not only be in it but say what happens to it. That goes a long way. I know it does because when I was little, I didn’t have anyone telling me about my ancestors. I was a leaf with no idea which tree I came from. Was it peach? Cherry? Almond? No wonder when we shake up the family tree all the nuts fall out! (Makes the kids laugh.) We finally decided we MUST be from a cocoa tree, we’re just looking for the Florida ancestors so we can prove it. Our passion for chocolate speaks for itself. When I learned about my heritage as an adult, I recognized that if I had grown up with the knowledge, I would have been changed for the good.
If you do your homework, put a story together, bring your ancestor to life & introduce your kids to them, they will grow up with a special kind of self esteem. A kind that is all but lost from this generation & is replaced with entitlement. Big mistake.
Fun Activity Idea: We happen to have LOTS of Quaker ancestors. I looked up how the Quakers got their name because I knew the kids would ask. It ended up making for a very funny skit. As the story goes, one of our ancestors was in front of a judge waiting to hear what his fine was for the accusation of blasphemy (he had been caught peddling religious books). The judge asked him to remove his hat and our Uncle William refused. He told the judge, “Instead of worrying about silly things like hats, you should be quakin’ before the LORD! The judge then said, “Get that quaker out of here!” Of course my kids didn’t want to do a dumb ol skit at first, but once they got into the acting, they really got into it. It was short, but there was laughter and they will never forget that they came here because their grandfather was THROWN out of what is now Germany because he kept getting caught peddling his religious books. They then wanted to know what was so bad about those books. So, we looked up what the quakers believe. Didn’t seem too bad to us but I guess they didn’t like it in Germany. They established almost the entire state of Pennsylvania because so many had to come here to study their religion in peace.
If you are passionate about Genealogy, don’t underestimate its value to your kids while they are still kids. American history is what it is, don’t avoid the rough parts. We are here today, all of us, because some men had a vision (and, no other choice, really, because they couldn’t just get back on the boat & go back where they came from). America is a place where you are free to believe what you want, where anybody can be anything they want to be. The same blood that powered those brave soldiers is running through their own bodies. The difference it makes when they are raised knowing it vs learning it when they are adults is beautiful. They grow up more confident & more resilient. Here is a link that tells you about one study that’s been done to confirm what I’m telling you. Though I don’t need a study to tell me what I can see for myself, some people really love “studies”.
If you are hesitant to talk about things like the Cowboys vs Indians, or other things that we are shamed for today, I get that. But I have conquered this issue too. Next blog, perhaps.