The History of a Child

January 29, 2013 | Categrory: military families, military kids

History. For some this word whispers dusty  memories of stuffy classrooms and boring discussions about people we never knew and truth be told, we did not care much about. Today I have been thinking about the history of a child, and the importance of that.

There was a time, when family history was naturally handed down. Not in boring lectures, but in the real life encounters daily, of things that matter.

My partner Paula and I have vastly different experiences with this. Paula was raised on an farm, her maternal grandmother nearby. She was immersed in family stories, lived where events of generations had taken place ,and heard adults talk of and live that history. She knows of her grandparents and how they came to America, the stories of how traditions began, and how to bake  recipes passed down by people that though she was too young to remember, were part of her..

For me it was much different. My parents divorced when I was 7. My father an Army Officer took us several places until I was set down in Denver Colorado no longer venturing from there. My mother, distracted and alone, had to work to support this young child and make a life out of the ashes. There were few opportunities to pass along history, daily survival was more important.

We never lived among the relatives, Uncles, Aunts, grandparents all lived states away. I never visited the dense woods of my mother’s childhood, or ate her cooking, since TV dinners were faster and more convenient for the two of us adrift and alone. I did later have some things that I held to, a recipe for Scotch shortbread from one side of the family and a book of a family story created by some distant Mormon relatives I have never met on the other.

It seems these days my experience is more common than Paula’s. I was thinking that many Military children are moving often, and that can open wonderful experiences for them. Moving can bring new insights and new friends. I guess the point of this blog is to get you think about how you can have both, as you raise your kids. How can you be intentional about history and passing it on to them?


Here are some ideas, you may like to think about

A family story box: this can be fun. Send a note to as many family members as you can. Ask them to write a story or memory that is important or funny but meaningful, memories or stories they would like to pass on to your children and have them mail or e-mail it to you. Collect these in a special box and share them with you children often. You can include recipes that are passed down, cultural items or photos, family traditions and where they came from.

A family book: There are some great websites out there,where you can find family history and then make it into a book that can be kept. You can download photos, write stories, add memories of places you are sent as a Military Family. Maybe one book for each place you go (Shuttefly has some nice ways to make books). Remember that you are history in the making! Scrapbooks are good too and may be cheaper.

Visit places where you grew up: Taking children to see grandparents and others is wonderful for them and for you. You can re-connect and show them where you lived as a child, kids love that.

Take kids to museums; especially when you are sent to a new base or post. There is history there, and now you are part of it. Give them a love of what has gone before and why things have meaning. This can later transfer into interest in your family history. Who else served in the Military? Where did the family come from and where did they settle? Are there any famous people you are related to? The history of our nation is part of the fabric of who we are, every one of us. It is your history and mine, pass it along!

Talk about family: births, deaths, adoptions, marriages, try connecting and talking about family with your kids. Giving kids a sense of other family members even when they live far away, gives them some point of connection later on. If they have heard you talk of aunt Sofia  or cousin Delbert, they will be more likely to connect when they finally meet them. Family members who have passed on are part of your child’s history, let them know how these people impacted your life and what things about them are memorable. As the mother of two adopted children I have to add that your history is their history…don’t worry about answers you do not know about birth family , pass on matter of factly what you know, but the focus is the family they now have. They are a grafted piece  fully belonging to the family they have been adopted by. You are giving them a foundation when their stone is cemented into the family wall.

Deployments and Reunions: Save e-mails, photos and remembrances of these times. Kids, if they are very young will be very interested in Daddy’s tour if Iraq ,Afghanistan, Japan or Alaska, and his place in history as a soldier. Save photos of the kids, they will love seeing what they looked like in that period of time, and how you all got through those times. Kids can find a solid place in the family, or feel blown like dandelion fuzz on a breeze, this is the importance of the history of a child. You can create that solid place no matter how many times you pick up and adventure, by being just a bit of a historian and collector on their behalf!

Here is a book to make your next move easier on the kids and open conversation for you with them. Little Daisy’s Worst/Best Day talks about moves, leaving family and finding new adventures. Acknowledging the difficulties, but introducing the positive, your little ones will love it!

Here is the link so you can take a look!