Gransnet forums

Ask a gran

DGD refuses to learn about her ancestors

(22 Posts)
CorneliaStreet Fri 10-Jul-20 05:45:51

My granddaughter is a very nice and clever girl, but she seems to be bored whenever I try to tell her about my parents (her great-grandparents) and other ancestors. You see, I'd love to tell her everything about her family, show the photos and so on, but she isn't interested. My daughter, her mother, says I'm being funny and that I should just let her live her life. Honestly, it breaks my heart as I'd love to pass some memories on! My daughter had also found it boring, so I probably see where it all comes from but anyway, is there anything I could do?

Scentia Fri 10-Jul-20 05:57:55

You cannot make someone interested in what you are interested in, that is impossible. What I would do is make a book, write about them, put in photos and then one day your DD and DGD may be interested and read it. This could be way after you are gone but that information will always be there if they want it.

vegansrock Fri 10-Jul-20 05:58:29

You can’t blame children for not being interested in the same things as you. It’s only as I’ve got older I’ve become more interested in the past and wish I’d asked my parents / grandparents more questions! Perhaps put all your photos in a book and write down your memories so that in years to come she may want to read them, or even modernise them by digitising the photos and writing an online blog about your family.

Spice101 Fri 10-Jul-20 06:02:23

You don't say how old your granddaughter is. In my experience it is not until someone gets older that they become interested in hearing about their families. Children live in the now and none of the people you want to talk about have any now factor for her.
All you can do IMO is to wait and see if, with age, your granddaughter shows interest and then talk to her.

You need to accept that she may never show any interest and while that may be disappointing for you you cannot force something on her.

BlueBelle Fri 10-Jul-20 06:33:33

You are wrong corneliaGoodness me you can’t imprint your interests on your grandchildren (or children) that is really Too much to expect
Of course many children would be bored with history of their ancestors, she may be interested much later in life or she may never be, I have 20 years worth of family history in trees, photos, letters and not one child or grandchild (10 people) is in the least bit interested and I totally understand that
I have just asked my eldest daughter to make sure it’s not all thrown away when I die someone later in my ‘tree’ may be thankful
For goodness sake let it be, to keep trying is the quickest way to turn a child off something
Get it all down on paper and pass it on to anyone In the family you trust and ask for it to be passed downthe generations that’s all you can do

ladymuck Fri 10-Jul-20 06:43:31

The others have made the right suggestion, Cornelia. Write it down in a journal, add any photos and documents you have, and make sure it is kept somewhere safe.
I think that is something all families should do anyway.
Sorry to say this, but older people do tend to ramble on about their own childhood memories. It can be interesting, but it can also be rather tedious.

Calendargirl Fri 10-Jul-20 06:56:05

If you’re talking about people who are deceased and your GD has never met them, she most likely won’t be interested.

Old family photos mean very little, they just look like elderly strangers.

I can’t get excited about ancestors, my sister was saying yesterday she is doing the family tree, gone back to the 1700’s on maternal side, but I just don’t have any desire to know about the far away past.

cornergran Fri 10-Jul-20 07:00:59

Our 14 year old is beginning to ask questions, the younger ones not at all. Now and again I might mention something casually but don’t expect them to listen. My interest came when I had my own children, too late really. Some stuff is written down, I plan to add to it when I can ‘just in case’. I can’t persuade Mr C to think about his family history at all, his choice,of course but I am sad the knowledge could die when he does.

TerriBull Fri 10-Jul-20 07:18:10

Of course she's not interested, she sounds like most children, if they did, wouldn't it be great! Once I got into genealogy myself I regretted all the lost opportunities I could have had with my grandparents, and even parents to a certain extent to ask them about all that and what they remembered, my father had his great grand mother alive into his teens, she was well into her 90s, having been born in the mid 19th century, I'm lucky enough to have photos of her in her Victorian regalia. I'd just keep all your memorabilia, photos etc. safe so it can be passed on. I think it's fair to say that those whose interest is sparked in what went before tend to come to all that later in life.

Illte Fri 10-Jul-20 07:26:14

And bear in mind these are only one quarter of her ancestors. Your family. Your husband has a family. Her other grandparents have families.

Goodness, think if they all wanted her to know about them in detail!

Writing them for the future is a good idea or just now and then recounting funny stories about great granny (or whoever) that have a relevance to your granddaughter and become family legends or saying.

We have one about great-granny's canary🙀

JennyNotFromTheBlock Fri 10-Jul-20 08:05:06

I understand you, Cornelia, but it's impossible to make someone interested in things you are interested in. You just can't make them change their interests. I know it is sad and you wish your DGD only the best, but such things as the wish to learn more about her family come to people much later, maybe in their 30s or later. She is a teenager, I suppose, and there is nothing more boring for them than looking at some old dusty pictures grin
You can try to make the whole process more interesting for her, like, ask her to recolor some of the old pictures (there is a bunch of programs that do so almost automatically like Photoglory or Inpaint) but if that doesn't work then leave her alone. I bet you have plenty of other things to discuss with her and do together!

craftyone Fri 10-Jul-20 08:16:06

make a book for them. I did just that via blurb, all the family have one now. Younger people have enough of a problem just getting by today, yes one day they would be interested but that often happens when they can see their own mortality, when they realise that life has an end. So my dgs is super interested now but in the exciting side, when the kgb shot a relative in the war. I don`t expect him to be interested in the gentle horticultural and baking side but he will be one day and in the meantime, I don`t think about retaining the knowledge for them, I did it, in a book covering both sides and 4 famiy trees, I did as much as I could

Alexa Fri 10-Jul-20 08:19:16

Cornelia, as I search my own memories of my parents telling me things about relations I seldom or never met, I remember snippets of info , the few they imparted to me and which have emotive value.They never sat me down and tried to get me to listen to family history and although I was an obedient child I would have been bored, I think.
My father told me one or two things that happened to him in the Great War, and I remembered because I knew it mattered to him to tell me.
It's likely your little relative will hear brief comments if they are about something that affects you, as children are usually alive to what sets off their elders' strong feelings.

BlueBelle Fri 10-Jul-20 08:27:42

I’ve got a great idea cornelia I think you should sit down and read or hear all about the latest rap songs and singers really listen and go into it and make sure you are interested now or I will get very upset and sad

Seriously I wish I d asked my Nan more questions but we just aren’t interested when we are young

Flossieturner Fri 10-Jul-20 08:33:11

I had the same reaction from the grandchildren but my own children were interested. I think it is because they have memories of the people, whereas the ancestors are strangers to the children.

I suggest you get a book called ‘Mum. Tell Me.’ My daughter bought me this and it took me about a year to complete. She gave it to me on Mother’s Day and I gave it back to her on the next One.

It is a very thought provoking book. It does not just prompt you to relate factual details, but your thoughts and feelings too. The book is in form of questions, things you may not have thought to include.

There is lots of room to write additional information and included photos. When your grandchildren are older they will enjoy reading it.

sodapop Fri 10-Jul-20 08:48:09

I think you are getting this a bit out of proportion Cornelia if you consider it heart breaking. Your granddaughter is not interested in this subject at present so leave it alone, she may well come back to it later.
It's a good idea to write it all down especially the personal stories then your granddaughter will have this when she is more receptive.

Cabbie21 Fri 10-Jul-20 08:51:34

One set of my grandchildren have no interest, whilst the other set are fascinated, at times( though not very often now they are a bit older).
It began with photos, of their mum and her brother as children with me, then me and my parents, so they got a sense of being part of a chain through the generations.When they were studying certain topics in primary school eg the Victorians, WWII, I was able to supply some anecdotes which related to my family which they enjoyed.
It has mostly been at my house, or when visiting a National Trust house, talking about things in the kitchen or bathroom reminiscent of my childhood or my grandparents’ house. They are amazed to hear about the bath tub being filled in front of the living room fire for my weekly bath, and the same water being used one by one by my sister then my parents.

But is isn’t something you can force. Like others, I wish I had asked my parents for more information. I am now busy sorting photos and memories into some order, and plan to make it something that will make sense when they are older.

Furret Fri 10-Jul-20 09:03:30

Why not create a book or folder. Put in everything you know and whatever you’ve discovered online. Then put it in a big envelope and label it Family or something like that.

I’ve heard so many people say ‘I wish I’d listened more or asked more questions’ but it’s often only when you get to a certain age that you start windering.

This way, and it may be many many years before someone actually is interested enough to read it, you will be leaving them a treasure trove of research, memories, photos, documents etc

Liz46 Fri 10-Jul-20 09:09:22

I have been hoping to get my GS to take an interest in my father's story (he was a Battle of Britain pilot) but I have not pushed it. I have gathered information which I hope will be kept. This includes a letter he wrote to his mother on the day WW2 broke out. He said that she was not to worry as he had had the proper training but he thought that newer pilots would not get that training. This is of course what happened.

midgey Fri 10-Jul-20 09:09:53

I still remember how we laughed when our father used to start...My father your grandfather ... now I wish I had listened!

Hetty58 Fri 10-Jul-20 09:13:36

I wasn't interested when my mother and sister were researching the family history. They tried to involve me, but at the time, I wasn't bothered at all about the past, too involved with the present.

Yes, I think it would be good to compile/record all the details for future reference.

Calendargirl Fri 10-Jul-20 09:31:28

My own mum never met my son’s children, she died before they were born, and I suppose it saddens me that they show no interest in her or my dad, their great grandparents.
But they are teenagers, and it just seems like history to them.