I often find it strange that family legacy doesn’t play as much of a role in our society as it once did. In many cultures it has been extremely important for people to have pride in their family name and to carry on a legacy. For families with a tarnished history it can be an opportunity to break the cycle and start a new family that diverges from the less desirable aspects of past generations. Family trees can help to document the history of how the youngest family came to be. The Mormon community, for example, places much importance in the concept of genealogy and learning about one’s family history. They even offer free services that will assist you in tracing your own lineage.
During medieval times many families had their own family crest, which was often a shield with symbols to define what made their family name significant. Family names were so integrated into the importance of the identity of a person that they were inseparable. There is something to be admired about the importance of family and knowing where you come from.
Maybe we’re too individualist at times today, focused on what we want for our own future and forgetting where we come from or perhaps what we want to build anew. Not everyone is destined to start a family but for those that do want to start one and ensure their family name to lives on, legacy is something to cherish. The benefit of researching your family history can be that you’ll learn where you come from and can choose to continue under the same banner, or to change it into a new direction. There is also a sense of belonging to know your family’s history and to be a part of it.
I find that having kids seems to carry a negative stigma under contemporary views. The other day I heard an insurance ad on the radio that jested at the fact that parents don’t get any sleep when they have a newborn child, playing on the negative aspects of parenthood to sell car insurance. Many career fields don’t place much value in paternity leave, giving parents only a brief window to invest their time in starting a family lest they feel guilty about the time they take from work. Having children is seen as a financial burden or a setback to living the liberated parentless life. It’s because of this that lately I’ve found it refreshing to see new families and young married couples that want to start a family despite the numerous negative aspects of it expressed these days.
As the former generation of my own family passes away it makes me want to know more about the life that my grandparents and great grandparents lived. As the torch is passed to the next generation to carry, what is it that we want to ensure is never forgotten or lost in the history of our own family name?
If you have grandparents or great grandparents, ask them questions about their lives. Take the time to document their stories and their views of the world they lived through. Instead of having a bookshelf full of contemporary titles by published authors, create your own family library with pictures and documentation about the older generations’ lives. Find a genealogy service to help you trace back your family roots and uncover new stories and connections. Create your own family crest with the symbols and archetypes that you feel best defines your name. You could even take your crest design to a jeweler to have a custom amulet or bracelet forged with it. You may discover a renewed sense of purpose and identity to reflect on these things. It definitely takes putting forth some time and effort into it, but it’s worth it. Carry on your family name and be proud of where you come from.