John F. Kennedy once said that “children are the living messages we send to a time we cannot see.”
What values are we imparting to our children today that will be their message to future generations?
My husband and I pondered this question often while writing A Spiritual Heritage, which launches in October. Thinking of our own children, we want them to know that they are part of something larger than the circumstances they face today – that they on a continuum of a family story that spans centuries and includes both inspiring victories and heart breaking struggles. Most importantly, we want them to comprehend that their story is linked to the greatest story – that of God’s love for, and redemption of, mankind.
A study conducted by Marshall Duke at Emory University paired resiliency with how much a student knew about their family history.
The researchers were surprised to discover that “the ones who know a lot about their families tend to do better when they face challenges.” Furthermore, the more they know about their family’s history, the better they regard themselves.
Knowing about my family’s history causes me to think outside myself and feel a part of something more significant than just ME. To know what life was like for my ancestors in a tiny northern village in Finland makes me more humble and grateful. To know of my grandfather’s struggles to stay alive despite being severely beaten by Russian soldiers makes me more resilient. To know that this experience led him to become a praying man, makes me want to pray more. To know that my mom, as a 22-year-old, tearfully said goodbye to her entire Finnish family and immigrated, by herself, to the United States makes me more willing to face hard challenges. When I visit her in the memory care facility she now resides in, I talk to her about these real events in her past. She lights up and laughs. She is more alive and satisfied to remember at least for a moment. It’s a way I can bring sparks of joy into her existence today.
Your ancestor’s lives have in some form or fashion, left an imprint on who you are today.
Whether your family history is good or bad (or a mixture of both like most of us), it’s real and something you and your kids can learn from. It’s about lessons often learned in the context of ordinary day-to-day living. So tell your kids stories about their ancestors – both the struggles and the victories. We don’t have to go down the path of our not-so-perfect relatives, but can still learn from their mistakes and better determine our own paths.
By teaching your kids about their family history, they will come to see themselves as part of a bigger story, a link in a chain and not just an independent dot on its own.
We are each a story being written but we are also history in the making.
We are our children’s heritage and how we live out our lives today, especially in context of ordinary daily life, will leave a lasting imprint on who they will be tomorrow.
“Children are the living messages we send to a time we cannot see.”
What messages are we imparting onto their hearts today?
You can pre-order A Spiritual Heritage at Amazon today.