Discovering a Family Member’s Lost Past

We speak to them almost every day, yet our family members can often harbour secrets from their past that we now nothing about. Margot Adler found this when she discovered that her cousin, now 88 years old, had hidden from the Nazis in Amsterdam. It wasn’t until Margot had been visiting the nearby monument of Anne Frank’s house that her cousin disclosed that she had been through a similar ordeal when she was young. When Adler asked more questions, she discovered that her cousin had lived an entire life that she was unaware of.

Family relationships can be strengthened by learning more about a person’s background, in the same way that we tend to make an effort to learn about people when we build friendships. Because we are born into our families, we assume that we know all there is to know about the people around us. However, these are still people that we need to make an effort with and, with regards to the older generations, they can offer stories that will help you to learn about your own heritage. Often we find that we make more of an effort with the people outside of our families, as these are people we are trying to bond with – but surely that effort is equally worthwhile within the home?

You could improve the relationships in your home by taking a small amount of time our of your week to chat to your family members – pictures and old diary entries are a great motivator for conversation, and they can spark memories. Much like Adler and her cousin, they can help you relate more to your family, extended and otherwise, and help you to learn things about your past and family history.

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