Posts Tagged ‘Utah Genealogical Association’

Six Basic Principles of Sharing Your Family History with Your Children by Janet Hovorka

Janet Hovorka

Janet Hovorka

Thanks today go to Janet Hovorka, President of the Utah Genealogical Association, for sharing an excerpt about family history from her blog, The Chart Chick.

6 basic principles of sharing your family history with your children ~ Janet Hovorka

  • If you make it boring it will be boring. Start with an attention getter and make sure you are a good story teller. Anyone would be interested in seeing a picture of their great-grandfather who looked just like them. And any child would like to see his grandfather’s school report card when he was their age. All children will listen to stories about the trouble their mother got into as a child. Start with photos, games, or engaging stories if you want your family to be interested in what you have to tell them about their family’s past.
  • Don’t underestimate their abilities and interest level. Working with children, I’ve been consistently amazed at how much interest they had even when I didn’t expect it. When you expect them to be interested, but keep in mind their attention level, you will find that they will surprise you with their excitement about their history. If they aren’t all that interested, return to the paragraph above and analyze the way you are presenting it to them.
  • You may not inspire a self proclaimed genealogist but you will have a child that knows about their family history. While your children or grandchildren my not identify themselves as a genealogist, they may still grow up knowing alot about their family of origin. Any child can benefit from the blessings of family history whether they become a zealot for the cause or not. Each time they encounter their family’s history more and more of the benefits of knowing their past will come into play in their lives.
  • Teaching about family history is a lifestyle, not a single event. Every little encounter children have with their family history is a little more they know about their past. Encounters can be as small as a comment or as large as a full scale family event. But over the course of time, big and small encounters with family history add up to a foundational knowledge about where the family came from and a more developed sense of self for the child.
  • Family history is best passed down when you know the family members you are trying to involve. Know the attention span of the children you are working with. Know how they approach problems and what frustrates them. Know what interests and hobbies they have that might tie in to a project you want to do. Find a characteristic they have in common with an ancestor. When you bring the family history to the child rather than try to bring the child to family history, your child’s connection will be much stronger and easier to forge.
  • If you are excited about it, and if you have a good relationship, they will be more inclined to be excited about their family history too. My kids joke that when they work on family history with me they get in my “good zone.” They know that I am passionate about it, and they know that I love it when they get involved. They know that after working on family history with me, they can talk me into many privileges that I might have otherwise said no to because I trust that their souls are fed and I can trust them more with other aspects of their lives. Hopefully they will come away from our time together with a love for family history because they love me. I know they have already developed a love for family history because they love their grandparents. And hopefully their experiences with family history will be associated with joy because their mother was so happy with them when they were working on it.

Like my Great Grandfather Joseph Hatten Carpenter said, “One arises from the study of genealogy with a clearer and more charitable conception of the whole brotherhood of man.” Who wouldn’t want to inspire that in their kids?

About Janet Hovorka

Janet Hovorka received a B.A. in Ancient History and a Master’s in Library Science from BYU. She has accepted teaching and library positions at BYU and SLCC before having her three wonderful children. She and her husband Kim Hovorka own Family ChartMasters ( formerly Generation Maps), a genealogy chart printing service that includes the Family ChArtist online charting tool. Janet writes The Chart Chick blog ( and teaches at SLCC. She is serving as President of the Utah Genealogical Association and has presented 100s of lectures all over the country to help people find out more about their family’s history.




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