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Get Ahead Kids® Feature Article
Get Ahead Kids - Vol. 5, No. 1 - January/February 2013

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Family Stories Matter

By Maggie Hamilton

As summer holidays draw to a close and you prepare to send the kids back to school you may turn attention your home - to the things you have some control over. You may be busy renovating kitchens and bathrooms, and re-doing the garden. In the process, you may throw away possessions that don't go with the new furniture.

The result is that precious items that have been in your families for decades are ending up in junk stores or as landfill. With these possessions go important pieces of your family story, and the opportunity to pass these stories on to your children.

When you think about it, there's an amazing amount of family history contained in everyday objects - in buttons and ribbons, in old scraps of material, pictures and postcards, and in china tea cups, old ties and medals.

If you want kids to take an interest in more than Bob the Builder and Dorothy the Dinosaur, and all the crazy celebrities out there, it's important they get the chance to treasure things closer to home. They need the chance to appreciate the everyday objects around the home and the family stories that go with them.

Family stories have always been important, because they give kids important clues about who they are and where they come from. They're foundation stones on which they can build their own lives. The sharing of family stories now and then helps them see they're part of something bigger than themselves.

It's precious information, because it's about their unique story. Most family stories are pretty colourful, but that's okay because they contain some good life lessons. It helps balance out all the celebrity rubbish, as they get to learn about real people with real lives in real life situations.

Sometimes family members did good things. Sometimes they messed up, or failed. Hearing these stories help children learn life is complex, and good choices matter.

Recently while talking with a group of teenage boys at school, we spoke about family stories. When I asked them to tell me their stories, I was blown away by how engaged they were. One boy's grandad had fled the communists in Europe with just a tiny cardboard suitcase, which he still had. Another told about his grandfather in the Second World War, who still had his medals. Everyone was riveted, because the stories were really exciting!

So perhaps it's time to get out the beautiful old teacups the family doesn't use any more, and have a family high tea just for fun or celebrate nan's birthday, and to hear about when and where these lovely cups were used in times past. Or perhaps you're inspired to hunt out old tins and posters, buttons and photos, and find out a bit more about them. Don't let a family gathering go past without the chance to hear a few stories of past generations. You won't regret it!

Tips on Exploring Your Family Story

  • Put aside a special shelf for precious family objects
  • Spend a wet afternoon sorting out & framing old family photos.
  • Create a collage from family memorabilia, & then frame it
  • Make a quilt from scraps of material worn by different family members

About Maggie Hamilton

Writer, publisher and social researcher Maggie Hamilton is the author of many books including "What Men Don't Talk About", which examines the lives of real men and boys as opposed to the stereotypes, and "What's Happening to Our Girls?" and now "What's Happening to Our Boys?" These books look at the 21st century challenges our girls and boys are facing, and the solutions. Maggie's new book 'Secret Girls' Business', is a fun gift book for teen girls.

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