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How Are Your Roots?

What do you think this Chinese proverb means? Can we really forget our ancestors - those who lived before us? What purpose is there in finding out about our ancestry?

Family History Provides Connections Your family tree can show you exactly how you are related to all of your ancestors. It may help to provide meaningful connections to your ancestors. Old photos, letters and diaries give you a window into what your ancestors were really like. Stories handed down from generation to generation about something an ancestor did can be fascinating. Family history is what makes a name and series of dates on a page into an actual real person who lived like you are doing now.

Family History Reminds You Where You Came From Did you grow up speaking more than one language? Those languages were handed down by your relatives who speak it. Their parents, or grandparents, taught it to them. The foods you eat together, or during celebrations, are another reminder of where your family came from. You may have learned how to make grandma’s pasta sauce, or dhal, or apple pie.

Family History is Good For Your Children Children love to hear stories about how their parents met, what their parents were like when they were children and the day-to-day life of their grandparents. These kinds of old family tales, passed down from generation to the next, provides context - to know who you are and where you fit into the world, you need to know where you came from. Family history can break the cycle transgenerational trauma.

Family History Informs Your Health Choices Families which recognise that heart disease runs in their family can seek medical advice about how to avoid it. Families that have a genetically inheritable disease in their genes can encourage younger generations to get tested for it. Stories about how relatives managed with a particular disease or condition may enable hope to those who have it, too.

We may not enjoy talking about the diseases or conditions that caused the death of our relatives and ancestors, it is, nevertheless, important to do it.

Family History Encourages Compassion Children who understand that their ancestors were immigrants may feel compassion towards their peers who are recent immigrants. Young people who know which countries their ancestors came from may empathise with the people who live in that country today and who are in challenging situations. Knowing your family history can help you understand and accept people who aren’t part of your family tree.


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