The Finlay Family

Finding Our Ancestors, and Sharing Their Stories

In Their Own Words: Why share family history with children?

Nicole Dyer, of FamilyLocket, has created a “Family History for Children” blog link up. This month’s theme is “Why Share Family History with Children?” It is my pleasure to participate in this blog link up about a topic dear to my heart.


I have shared before about how I got started in genealogy as a young teen, and how I incorporate family history with my children’s school studies. I have written about making family history a part of family road-trips and vacations, and why I share short video stories and small social media bits about my family history to appeal to the younger generation.

If you hadn’t guessed by now, I feel strongly that people of all ages can relate to their family history and find connection and strength in it. Today, I wanted to do something different. I have shared plenty of my own thoughts already. But, what do today’s children and teens have to say about learning about their family history, and delving into genealogy? Here are some thoughts shared by youth and children in my area:

**These young people are all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon) and many of their thoughts include their religious beliefs on the subject. I have lightly edited their remarks only for spelling, grammar and clarity.

Questions:

  • Why do you think it’s important for youth and children to be involved with family history?
  • How does knowing about your family history as a young person help you?

Answers:

I like learning about my family history because I can learn from the stories of my ancestors. It also brings me the Spirit and helps me feel the love of my Heavenly Father. It helps me to know who I am and what I can do. Because they did amazing things in their lives, I know I can too. I love my family and I like to know the stories of the family I had before I was born. ~Joshua, age 14

Why I like family history is because there is so much work do be done for ancestor’s families who want to be sealed together. I have done some work when I was young and got families, parents and their kids together, and printed their [temple] work. I learned about them and there is a great feeling inside when the work is done. There are lots of families who need their work done, and are desperate to get their families together, and it can be fun. ~Kathryn, age 10

It’s good to know where I come from. And it helps me know what makes me special. When we find our ancestors then we can take their names to the temple and do baptisms for them so we can see them again in heaven. I hope that when we meet our ancestors in heaven we can hear more about what they went through here on earth. ~Cooper, age 11

My ancestor’s brother, George Manwaring, wrote the song Joseph Smith’s First Prayer. When I learned about that it made the song very special to me. And it makes me happy when we sing that song in church. Knowing about my family makes me feel happy. ~Cameron, age 8

I wasn’t really able to get to know any of my great grandparents. The only one I really remember is Great Grandpa Wiltbank. I remember thinking that he slept a lot, and that it was weird that he took his mouth out and put it in a cup at night. Other than that, I don’t remember much. At his funeral, I remember looking at his body in the casket. Then I was shepherded away to the nursery to play while the older people buried the coffin. I’m pretty sure I snuck away to my parents at one point though, and they were mad. I remember looking at the ground under which he was buried. My parents were crying a little, which made me a little sad. But there was a feeling there. A feeling of calm. A quiet feeling. A peaceful feeling. Great grandpa had been received with joy on the other side. I hope to be greeted in that way by those who have come before me when I exit this life. As we draw near to them, they will draw near unto us.  ~William, age 16

I think that family history is important on many different levels. Prophets have spoken about it for years. Old Testament prophets have testified of the importance of family history. Modern day prophets have also testified of the importance of family history. On April 3, 1836 Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were in the Kirtland Temple when Elijah and Moses appeared to them and they conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood upon them. After they conferred the priesthood upon them Elijah turned to them and according to scripture said, “Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi—testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come— ‘To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse— ‘Therefore, the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands; and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors” Elijah was talking about family history! Because the ‘great and dreadful day of the Lord is near’ we need to get going on our family history so that others may return to heaven. Youth all over the world do family history every day. It is important for youth to do family history. The more names we find, the more work we can get done. With all of the youth we have around the world, if everyone found at least 1 name a week to take to the temple, we could get so much work done. There are so many more names out there and if we are going to get them all done, we need all the help we can get. Doing family history just bring peace to your soul. It just makes you feel good. If we turn our heart to our fathers, their hearts will be turned to us. Elder Andersen gave a challenge to ‘prepare as many names for the temple as baptisms you perform in the temple, and help someone else to do the same.’ If we can all accept this challenge so many names can be done. Family history has helped me on many levels. I feel great joy each time I find name. Recently I found a record for my Great Grandmother. I was overjoyed to find this record. I try to do as much family history as I can. It brings me closer to the gospel each time I find a name. I think we can accomplish so much if we can all take a little time to find names. Even if you’re not finding names we should be doing indexing to help others find names. Family history is one of the most enjoyable things for me to do. It just makes me feel good. ~Carrie, age 14

Since I was six years old I’ve loved watching my Mother on the computer doing not just her genealogy but my Father’s genealogy, I love to see how many generations back it goes, reading all the names, looking at the pictures, finding out a little about them and reading stories about them (if the stories are there of course). I got more into family history and by the time I was about 8 and a half, I started to work on familysearch.org on my mother’s account. I worked on my mother’s account until I was about nine and got my account. As I got older I got more of a connection to my ancestors, and by getting that, even though I can’t do their [temple] work right now I feel like their work should be done. That’s my connection to family history and my Ancestors. As I used it more, I researched more, and the more I researched the more I found. I had found 5 more people, more about some of their lives and got more of a connection to those people in my family tree. I guess I want to say our work is never done (come on people there is more than just one branch here not just the four on your side, but, your spouse, your ancestors spouses, siblings and cousins too)! ~Rebekah, age 10

 

Wow! I am inspired by their answers. In summary, I saw a theme that knowing their family history brings these young people happiness, peace, enjoyment, connection and spiritual strength. What more could we want for our children?

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