Family legacies are the stories, values, traditions, and memories passed down from generation to generation. They are the tangible and intangible things that make up a family's history and help create a sense of continuity and familiarity.
A family legacy is a glue that binds a family together and provides a sense of identity, belonging and purpose.
Benefits of a Family Legacy
There are many benefits of having a family legacy, such as:
Connecting Us to the Past
Learning about our family's history and traditions, we understand who we are and where we come from. This connection to our past is vital for younger generations who may feel disconnected from their family's history and traditions.
According to the New York Times, “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.”
Helping Us Understand Our Family's Beliefs
By sharing values, experiences, and traditions, we gain insight into why we do what we do and what is important to us. In today's fast-paced and ever-changing world, losing sight of our values and beliefs is easy.
According to a study by professors Robyn Fivush and Marshall Duke, “children who hear stories about stressful events in their families’ past told in an emotionally expressive way have higher levels of self-understanding and self-esteem."
Further research at Emory University found that 10-12-year-olds coped better when their families talked more coherently and emotionally about difficult family times than families that told less emotionally expressive and coherent stories about their challenges.
Being a Source of Inspiration and Motivation for Future Generations
We can pass on valuable lessons and insights by sharing our successes and failures. This helps younger generations navigate life's challenges and overcome obstacles. Family legacies instill pride and responsibility in future generations, encouraging them to continue the legacy and pass it on to their children and grandchildren.
According to research at Emory University, adolescents and young adults who know their grandparents' lives, including details like where they were born, where they attended school, and what kind of work they did as children, have higher self-esteem, social skills, and academic competence, as well as lower levels of depression, anxiety, and aggressive behavior. They also have a greater sense of life's meaning and purpose.
Providing Comfort and Connection During Difficult Times
A solid family legacy can provide stability and continuity when faced with a loss or a significant life transition. They remind us that we are part of something larger than ourselves and have a rich history and tradition.
According to Bill High, children who understand they are part of a bigger family narrative feel more confident and like they belong. They know they are a part of something greater than themselves and have a strong sense of "intergenerational self."
How to Create Your Family Legacy
There are a few steps you can follow to create your very own family legacy:
Reflect on your family's history and traditions
To do this, research your family's ancestry, talk to older relatives, and gather photos and memorabilia! You will better understand your family's roots and experiences shaping your values and beliefs.
Identify fundamental values and principles necessary to your family
These include hard work, perseverance, honesty, and kindness. By identifying these values, you can create a roadmap for your family's legacy, guiding future generations to live their lives.
Decide on a format for sharing your legacy
You can write a family history book, create a family tree, or document recipes and traditions. One platform for sharing family stories and legacies is My Stories Matter, which allows families to share their stories, traditions, and experiences safely and securely.
Involve all family members in the creation process!
Suppose you’re interested in collaborating on a family legacy with your family. In that case, use My Stories Matter, designed for collaboration - a fun and meaningful way to bring your family together and strengthen your family's bonds.
Examples of Family Legacies
Family legacies take many forms, and there is no right or wrong way to create one. Here are a few examples of family legacies that you may find inspiring:
Stories and Experiences: Recount family history, such as how your grandparents met or when your family went camping and encountered a grizzly bear while on a hike!
Recipes and Food Traditions: Share recipes for your favorite dishes growing up, like your grandmother’s famous peach cobbler, accompanied by family games! Document the history of family meals, and pass down cooking techniques and tips.
Photographs and Other Memorabilia: Create photo albums, display family heirlooms, and share stories about objects passed down through the generations. An example is a time capsule full of your family’s most treasured souvenirs, such as engagement rings, postcards, letters, etc..
Create Your Family Legacy on My Stories Matter
My Stories Matter allows families to create a safe and secure digital archive of their family stories and traditions, ensuring they are preserved and passed down to future generations. Your legacy can be a source of inspiration, guidance, and motivation for your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
So take the time to reflect on your family's history and traditions, and start crafting your family legacy today!