5 Principles That Will Help Your Children Love Family History



Malachi’s prophecy that the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers is being fulfilled today (Malachi 4:6). The Spirit of Elijah  a manifestation of the Holy Ghost bearing witness of the divine nature of the family – can be found throughout the world, regardless of religious affiliation. [1] In a recent post, I talked about the positive psychological benefits of children who have a knowledge of their family history. Today, I focus on five principles that will help foster the Spirit of Elijah in your home and family. 


1.  Record Your Own History

Prophets have commanded us to keep journals and family records. I began my own personal journal at age 12 and have continued that tradition into my adulthood. Our family journal is through our blog (printed into a book each year); however, I still keep a personal handwritten journal of my spiritual experiences.  Other families have found success through scrapbooks, photo albums, video recordings, and journal jars. Some of my most treasured possessions are journals that belonged to my late grandmother. 

2.  Keep it Accessible

I have fond memories of being at the home of my grandparents and looking at photos and old books of our family. I think one reason I was drawn to them was that they were right there on the shelf, not packed away in the basement or attic. That led to questions and then stories about my relatives and ancestors. It also instilled a love for family members I had not ever met. Not everything can and should be accessible, but having something for children to see and hold can lead to invaluable natural learning opportunities. We keep lots of photo albums, scrapbooks, old pictures, and family notebooks in the living room on a low shelf where our son can access them easily. It is not surprising to find him quietly looking through old photos of his grandparents and relatives. This has led to many wonderful conversations and has hopefully allowed him to feel the spirit in our home. 

3.  Consider Age

Whatever the ages of your children, there is something you can do. When our son was a toddler, we made an inexpensive family photo book just for him. He loved to look at the pictures of his grandparents, great-grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. We have also tried to instill a love for the temple at an early age. As we travel, we make an effort to visit new temples and take a picture in front of that temple. Recently, we had a family home evening lesson about family history and we helped him make his family tree. As children get older, you can introduce them to pedigree charts, how to seek out names, and how to prepare names to take to the temple. Youth can take an even greater role in family history work. 

4.  Make it Real

Try to create experiences for your children that will help family history feel real to them. When I was a little girl, we used to visit the graves of some of my ancestors. I also used to love watching the one home video of my mother’s family when they were children. We enjoy traveling with our son around the country and meeting distant relatives. He has been able to see where his grandmother grew up and learn of his Italian heritage. One family member prepared a photo album that included recipes from my husband’s Italian grandmother and great-grandmother. As I have cooked some of these recipes, I can feel my heart growing fonder and having feelings of tenderness for these women. Of course, there is nothing more real than preparing family names, taking them with you to the temple, and feeling a connection with their spirits.   
5.  Utilize Technology

Incredible advancements in technology have allowed our efforts to be magnified. Elder Bednar gave a special invitation to youth to begin the work now. To the youth he said, “Your fingers have been trained to text and tweet to accelerate and advance the work of the Lord—not just to communicate quickly with your friends. The skills and aptitude evident among many young people today are a preparation to contribute to the work of salvation.” [2]

Much of the work, such as indexing, can be done in your own home through the use of a computer or handheld device. There is even an app through Find A Grave that allows you to upload gravestone pictures to a database that people can then access to retrieve burial information. [3]
References:

[1] Elder Russell M. Nelson, A New Harvest Time

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1998/04/a-new-harvest-time?lang=eng#8-

[2] Elder David A. Bednar, The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2011/10/the-hearts-of-the-children-shall-turn?lang=eng

[3] Find A Grave

http://www.findagrave.com/

Resources:

FamilySearch

https://familysearch.org/

Youth and Family History

https://www.lds.org/youth/family-history?lang=eng


 Jefra Rees is the wife of a loving husband and the mother of a young son with Sensory Processing Disorder. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Child Development and also has a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Special Education. She has worked with children and families in a variety of settings, but her greatest work is that which is done in her own home.

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