Genealogy and Children

Read about being a mother of 12 as our resident 'Supermom' shares her wise parenting advice.

An important objective

Keeping family relationships alive take a lot of effort for me since I live far from my siblings and remaining parent. When I gave birth to the first of my 12 children, I worried about how my daughter would find a sense of kinship with relatives who lived many thousands of miles away from us. I knew I'd have to work hard to give her a sense of belonging to her more distant family and I felt this to be an important objective, having had the joy of growing up surrounded by my extended family.

She'd express interest by pointing a tiny finger at the photos

I came up with the idea of creating an abbreviated family tree that utilized photos instead of names. I used a large white poster board and affixed photos I liked of her grandparents, aunts, and uncles to the skeleton I drew of a tree. I put up the poster over her crib and when she'd express interest by pointing a tiny finger at the photos, I'd name them for her: Grandma Shirley, Uncle Alan, and etc.

When at long last my daughter met some of the family, it was hard to say if she connected the faces to the photos on the poster board over her crib, but the names were familiar, and she seemed to take to my family with no hesitation. Considering my daughter's shyness and usual fear of strangers, I was sure that the poster had done a lot toward introducing the family names and faces.

As my daughter grew older, I would tell her stories about the family. For example, I told her about the time Aunt Margery flushed my goldfish down the toilet while she was changing the water in the goldfish bowl. Now my daughter had a story to connect to the face and name, and my sister became a real person for her. My daughter enjoyed hearing these stories and sensed that these stories had a personal connection to her. She began to ask me to repeat certain stories and asked me for new stories, as well.

Bolstering self-esteem

I felt that all of this did a great deal toward bolstering my daughter's self-esteem. Children, indeed, all people, have a need to feel a part of a loving whole. Your child's tree is filled with people who share some of her characteristics and the very same history. Teaching your child about the family tree can help build personal pride in your child.

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