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January 27, 2015

Love it, Don't Care, Hate it! How Families React to Genealogy

Love it, Don't Care, Hate it! How Families React to Genealogy
Have you ever noticed that friends and family react in different ways when you start to relate a genealogy story or find?

In my family most are mildly interested if it's a good story about a rogue or an ancestor who did something exciting. They don't want to hear about 3rd great grandpa Joe who was a farmer his whole life or how I can't find Great Great Grandma Harriet's maiden name. 

There are a couple of my family members who tell me bluntly they aren't interested. At all. Not one little bit. This is usually followed by a yawn.

How many ask me what new things I've found? Zero. None.  I will admit that there are a couple who say the right things "Oh that's cool!" "Wow, good stuff!" but I know they're just being kind. And that's okay because at least I feel like my hard work over the last 30+ years hasn't been totally in vain.

I do wish there were one or two family members who cared, perhaps not as passionately as I do, but who showed more than a passing interest. I'd love to share genealogy discoveries with them. I'd enjoy chatting about brick walls, or brainstorming how to move ahead with a challenging ancestor.

However I count myself lucky to have a husband who shares my love for genealogy and family history. He listens, He enjoys brainstorming sessions. He understands and accepts that if I'm deep into census or church records, I am not stopping to make supper.

What kind of reactions do you get in your family?

Credit: Photo by Stuart Miles


Ginger Genie said...

Cognitively, I understand that not every one shares the same interests but personally ... HOW CAN YOU NOT FIND THIS STUFF INTERESTING???? That's what I tell my sister who flat out tells me she doesn't care. I do have a cousin that shares my enthusiasm so I am grateful to share stories with her and vice versa. :)

Jim Fry said...

I guess the reactions in my family are very similar to yours except for one thing.

Everybody wants a (printed) copy of what I have done.

And they want to know when I will write a book to make it easier for them.

Dana Leeds said...

That's wonderful that your husband shares your passion for genealogy! My husband listens to my stories & says the right things, but I don't think he really gets why I do this.

My family members will get excited if I tell a really exciting story... especially the murder stories. And, they are all polite about it.

But, I have an aunt & uncle who inherited my great aunt's 30+ years of research & they are really excited to hear my new discoveries! They are still compiling all of her work into notebooks & don't really do 'new' research. But, they love talking genealogy!

A few other family members ask about it periodically...

Great question!

Caroline Cox said...

I was wary of becoming the person to avoid at family gatherings; no one wants to hear about my latest findings on Auntie Pat's haemorrhoids! So that's one reason I started my blog, anyone who's interested can read it, those who aren't don't have to!

Paul and Pat said...

I am very lucky in that one of my 4 kids is an archivist - and so even more interested in the nuts and bolts of things than I am.

The rest of them? yup - yawns :)

Patti said...

I get the glazed eye look. They "try" to appear interested, but none of them are.

How sad for them that they have no interest in their roots.

Della Steineckert said...

Interesting that we all belong to the same uninterested family! My mother whetted my appetite and I've continued her work. My children aren't so interested on the outside but I see a glimmer occasionally from the inside when they ask an occasional question. And so, personally, I work at this to become acquainted with my bygone ancestors and collateral cousins. By golly, I'll bet they're interested and I hear NO complaints from a single one of them. Just wish a few of these would pitch in and help me.

Jan Pearce said...

Well, being fairly new to this geneology bug, and not having a lot of living family, I'm mostly into my own growing interest. However, I love reading your articles and am very inspired to continue this journey. Thank you:) Jan

T said...

I'm also a member of the Yawn Club. If only they would read what I have written, how could they not be interested! Although there is no one famous, there are a lot of really interesting stories buried in the family history. I have about a 50% reading rate of the printed at my expense stories. Unlike Jim, I am never asked for updates. I recently saw updated pages I had given my daughter that must have spent the entire time on the floor of her car. I know I can't make them care but I do wish I could make them more respectful of the time and expense of the information I give them.

Michael Harris said...

I get ignored. No one cares a bit about the past.

Cate Kunzi said...

I've been lucky to have some VERY interested family members, but only when I've written out a "story" and shared it with them digitally.

Most are interested, some are grateful. In the end, I really do it for the incredible people who came before me. They LIVED - and their lives matter.


Jan said...

I've always loved history and when I started to find chapters in my history books that my family participated in I was more than hooked.
Seems like the older people get the more interested they become in relatives who have gone before.
I also have a blog so they can read when they have time. Through my blog I've connected with far distant cousins who DO have an avid interest in the family tree. And that's fun.

Marge Hawley said...

I've been doing family genealogy for 20 years. My sister says she's bored, because "all of these people are dead, so who cares". She always wants to know when I will get more info on our (supposedly) Indian ancestors. A mem
ber of the wannabee tribe.

Cassmob (Pauleen) said...

I can relate! My kids are ho-hum...they've lived with it a long time. I suspect people find it interesting when they can read the story rather than the detective path we followed. Always good to have a long-suffering partner at home.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, currently my family doesn't care. I have hopes because I've given this a lot of time and effort building on what my mother started. My EX husband always used to scoff and ask why I cared about dead people. My response: at least they don't argue with me. Note that he's my ex!