We’re Losing Generations of Family History Because We Don’t Share Our Stories

Here is a quote from an article by Rachael Rifkin in the Good Housekeeping web site:

“Most people don’t know much about their family history. This is because people usually don’t become interested in genealogy until they’re in their 50s and 60s, when they have more time to reflect on their family identity. The problem is that by that time, their grandparents and parents have often already passed away or are unable to recount their stories.

“Because of this, we’re losing generations of stories, and all of the benefits that come with them. ‘Because our families are among the most important social groups we belong to and identify with, stories about our family tell us who we are in the world, and who we should be,’ says Robyn Fivush, Ph.D., one of the researchers behind the study The Power of Family History in Adolescent Identity and Well-Being. ‘Stories about our parents and grandparents provide models of both good and bad times, as well as models of overcoming challenges and sticking together.’

“The solution to this problem is to get people interested in their family histories when they’re still adolescents or young adults, when they can still hear directly from relatives. But how do we cultivate an interest in each other to begin with?”

You can find a number of answers in Rachael Rifkin’s article at: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/a29610101/preserve-family-history-storytelling/.


Mildred B. Hopkins (Milly) November 22, 2019 at 3:47 pm

I’ve been excited by the “Finding Your Roots” summer workshop done with children at Penn State University & broadcast on our NPR station. Those children really got excited about learning more about their ancestors and heritage. I hope this will be repeated around the country. I’m the oldest left in my family, and I try to post photos & tell stories on Facebook so other family members will see/hear them. I do get a lot of “I didn’t know that” from such postings.


Current best seller “The Only Plane in the Sky” by Graff is an oral history of 9/11 quoting memories of ordinary folk. Where were YOU and what is your memory? This is the kind of thing to write down. (I am NOT selling the book, but the memories to be saved by YOUR family.) So when someone says in the future, “Wonder what Grandpa/ma was doing, thought and feared.” There is an answer.


This article and the link were very good. Being an older person I wish I had paid more attention to my Daddy’s stories of the past. Now it’s too late. I also wish I had asked my parents more questions. Today I’m aware of how important it is to pass stories of my life on to my children, grands and greats. If I don’t share the stories, they (stories) will die when I die.
The link has excellent ideas of questions to ask and ways to involve the younger generations as well as how to learn their stories.


It isn’t easy to get the younger generations to PUT THEIR CELL PHONES DOWN and take part in conversations with the older generations, even their own siblings, parents, aunts, uncles & cousins. They have lost the art of face to face conversation and are missing out on a lot of general information regarding their own families. At our family gatherings there is a rule. No cell phones at the table until the meal is completely finished and discussions are done and all excused to do cleanup. You will survive without the appendage in your hand for that time. Any IM can wait.


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