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3 Generations of Moms: Why Heritage is Important

Dana Larsen
By Dana LarsenMay 10, 2017

Mom’s influence on her children through both nature and nurture is powerful. She plays a significant role in nurturing, guidance and family, and as a result, her legacy as matriarch carries through the generations.

Moms bring structure and unity to their families. The nuances of one generation are often carried through other generations through the bonds of family and heritage; which often helps define who we are as both individuals and members of society. In honor of Mother’s Day, we’re discussing Mom’s very important role in our life, the imprint she has made on us, and why heritage is important.

The Family Bond of Heritage

Did you know that information about families is lost in three generations if not written down? If you think about it, you can often recall information about grandparents in detail, but information about great-grandparents can get a little fuzzy. The truth is that our ancestry and upbringing very much define who we are, and we can be thankful to our moms for passing down this information.

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There’s an undeniable strength in family camaraderie and stories. Whether it’s sharing cooking tips while baking together for the holidays, relaying life-stories on an afternoon get-together or sharing family history to the next generation — it is the small things about heritage that lend a certain ‘joie de vivre’ to our everyday lives.

Furthermore, it is the family sharing, get-togethers and traditions that bind the generations, and it is normally the women in families who share this information and are responsible for these gatherings.

The Importance of Establishing Family Traditions

Traditions are actions and behaviors that engage you again and again. These regular rituals performed at the same time each year, and with the same customs — whether big or small, that differ from regular habits — are done with a specific purpose in mind and require intentionality and thought.

Meg Cox’s “Book of New Family Traditions,” defines family ritual as “any activity your purposefully repeat together as a family that includes heightened attentiveness and something extra that lifts it above the ordinary ruts.”

It is these gatherings that become sacred to family members and offer a setting for family conviviality.

Compiling a Family History for the Next Generation

Taking it further than simply sitting down to share stories and enjoy each others’ company, is creating a family history memoir. Putting together either a oral or written family history can not only bring family members together and strengthen the ties between generations, but can also educate about family genetics, personalities, and more.

Family history translates into stronger family bonds and life successes. In fact, recent studies have shown that children who have more knowledge of their family history also tend to show greater emotional resilience, facing challenges more effectively as they have a stronger sense of where they come from and who they are.

2014 survey conducted by Harris Poll and commissioned by A Place for Mom revealed the following topics were what U.S. adults wanted to know about their family members, specifically their moms:

  • Career highlights (e.g., significant work achievements, favorite job)
  • Family history (e.g., genealogy, origins of the family)
  • Life advice (e.g., view on aging, words of wisdom to share with children and grandchildren)
  • Medical history (e.g. health issues common with family members, life-threatening disease diagnosis)
  • Personal history (e.g., childhood memories, dating history)

Almost like a puzzle, heritage is many pieces that form a masterpiece to comprise an individual and their journey. Taking the time to visit with Mom and Grandma is not only great to reconnect, but also gather pieces of your heritage puzzle, that can provide important info to pass on for posterity.

Why Sharing Family History and Heritage is Important

Traditions and family history offer numerous benefits to families. By spending time with those we love and reflecting on life, love and family, we tap into our own identity. Researchers from Emory University discovered that knowing more about family history with strong emotional ties to loved ones helps with life stability.

 “The more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believed their families functioned,” reports the New York Times.

It turns out that our self-confidence is related to our sense of belonging to something larger than ourselves — an “intergenerational self,” as psychologist Marshall Duke put it in the Times.

Family rituals, stories, traditions — even simple Mother’s Day activities — convey a sense of family history. Retelling positive moments also strengthens family bonds in the immediate term, and collecting a oral or written family history can help you and your loved ones tap into these benefits:

  1. They connect the generations.
  2. They offer comfort and security.
  3. They provide a source of identity.
  4. They strengthen the family bond.
  5. They teach values.

Gather Stories About Your Family’s Generations This Mother’s Day

Since information about families is lost in three generations if not written down, sitting down with Mom and Grandma this Mother’s Day to compile information about their childhoods and family lineage is not only a great way to bond, but also can be be a priceless gift if family information is documented.

Learning amazing stories that are full of challenges and courage — whether it’s your heritage or stories from someone else’s that has affected your family — is not only interesting, but also fun and entertaining. Some families gather stories and pictures for a scrapbook, while others create hardbound heritage books that make for excellent family heirloom. Today there are even sites for creating family history books, for this very purpose:

Mother’s Day is an excellent opportunity to connect and learn from your loved ones. Spending time with your Mom and Grandma can provide not only a familial bond, but will also help you gather a voice and personal memories of individuals and communities to preserve your family’s history.

How has mom influenced you and your family? Why is heritage important to you? Share your stories with us in the comments below.

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