Family translates as different things to different people. For some, it’s people who embrace who you are and love and understand you no matter what. For others, it can be strictly biological ties that go no further. Some of us don’t have idyllic families while others can’t imagine life without them, but for the majority of us, it’s a blend of the two.
Whether we are for or against it, there is no denying that our relationship with our family shapes who we are. They are our very first relationships and when positive, they guide us to grow mentally, emotionally, and physically. When negative, they can have lasting and detrimental effects. Whether or not your relationship with your family is positive or negative, learning about your family history is important in understanding who you are. When we delve deep into our family’s history, we learn so much more about ourselves, which is why we've highlighted 6 major reasons why you should start.
Educating ourselves about where we came from, our family traditions, and our culture can be extremely eye-opening. It can make us more conscious of who we really are, which in turn means we grasp a better understanding of our place in the world.
When we relate to our family’s past, we create our own narrative which help us to establish our authentic core identity. For example, if you are bilingual, you come to realize that those languages you speak were handed down to you by different relatives, whose own parents or grandparents passed it down to them. In the same sense, your favorite family recipe could date back to a completely different time and place without you even realizing it. All of these things tie together and inspire us to recognize just how unique and special we are as individuals.
*You can record your family tree in the Personal Network section of your myFRP account.
Life is tough: disappointments happen and inequalities exist. There is no doubt that our past family members faced tragedies and heartache of their own. When we learn about the struggles they encountered, some of them seem almost impossible to overcome, and yet they triumphed. Taking the time to learn about our family’s history and knowing they survived their failures can spur us on to become more resilient when faced with challenges of our own.
Experiencing troublesome times is part of being human. Once we’ve understood exactly what our ancestors went through, it rouses greater love and compassion for their flaws and mistakes. Of course, it's not just our loved ones who have imperfections - we all do. By remembering that everyone faces their own difficulties, we can shift our behavior to show kindness and empathy to all, and therefore strengthen our relationships and become better human beings all-round.
As humans, we crave attachment, belonging, and connection. When we connect with our family’s past, it can forge a deeper bond with older relatives as it solidifies a sense of family. Discovering our family’s history can also enlighten us on our current family dynamics, which can be an incentive in making us more tolerant and caring as well as freeing us from some of our fears and doubts.
The benefits you obtain from learning your family’s history may motivate you to record your own story. Think about it, the majority of us want to know how our parents first met, what they were like as children, and how their upbringing differs from our own. These kinds of stories get passed from one generation to the next and provide a sense of grounding. Family trees can be pretty abstract so by documenting your own stories you add depth to the facts and open a window of opportunity for future generations to connect with you when you’re no longer around.
For diverse family histories that are not well represented in history books, you hold the power to depict yourself and your family members truthfully, document your experiences honestly, and provide visibility to a wider audience instead of having others who have not lived in your shoes write it for you.
When we learn about our family traditions, like how they celebrated different events, we gain perspective that can strengthen our understanding of our own beliefs. When we are able to probe further into stories of our ancestors and find out who they are as people, we transform the names and dates on a page into living, breathing people.
We’ve all been in a doctor’s surgery and left a blank to an illness running in our family because, well, we simply have no idea. By educating ourselves on our family’s medical history, we become more aware of the risks we may face in developing the same problems. Once we understand these health concerns, we become empowered to look after ourselves, lead a healthier lifestyle and seek advice from doctors so we can prevent or control those very issues.
If you are aware of a genetically heritable disease that runs through your family, it can encourage younger relatives to get tested for it. On top of that, if it is possible to learn about how your relatives coped with a certain disease or condition, it can provide a level of hope for those in your family who test positive for it too.
*You can track your family’s medical history under the Household Management section of your myFRP account.
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