Lifestyle

The Pros and Cons of Researching Your Family’s History

Researching a family tree is a popular activity. Thanks to sites like Ancestry.com, there is a wealth of easily accessible data out there, so even if all you have is a couple of names, you can start searching for long-lost relatives and interesting family histories.

If you’re really lucky, you might discover your Great Aunt Mildred was a distant cousin of royalty, but it’s best to be prepared to find out that your Great-Great Grandfather was a cattle thief and ended up hanged for his crimes. 

Here are some of the pros and cons to think about before you start digging into your family’s history.

Locate Distant Family Members

It’s not uncommon for families to become fragmented as people move away, marry, emigrate, or fall out for various reasons. Over time, different branches of an extended family can lose touch. By researching your family tree, you can uncover new branches of your family, locate long-lost relatives, and better understand your family connections. Use a family tree maker as a template to help you or your children get started.

Gain Health Insights

Knowing our family roots can help us better understand our health. There are numerous health problems with genetic roots. Now knowing our wider family makes it harder to spot patterns such as male relatives being more susceptible to heart attacks or female relatives developing breast or ovarian cancer at a young age. Once you know how your relatives died or can see other common medical conditions within the family, you are in a better position to make more proactive decisions about your health.

Strengthen Family Connections

Is your family somewhat fragmented? Researching a family tree is a great opportunity to reconnect with relatives who are no longer part of the wider family. You may find you have long-lost cousins are half-siblings you knew nothing about.

It’s a Fun Exercise

Researching a family tree is a lot of fun, especially when you have no clue about your family’s roots. Imagine how exciting it would be to discover your family is linked to major historical events, or originated from a different country, where you have lots of new relatives to connect with. If you share the project with your siblings or children, you can share stories and research ideas with them, thus strengthening existing family bonds are making it an experience you can all gain something from.

Some Things to Be Aware Of

Digging back into your family’s history has the potential to reveal unpleasant truths. Before you begin, it’s important to be aware that you may discover things you weren’t aware of. This is especially the case if you upload DNA in the hope of finding long-lost relatives.

Not all family history is cheerful. People have affairs, children out of wedlock, or are connected to abhorrent things, like slavery. Be prepared for information to come to light you don’t like.

It’s also wise to accept that family members have the right to privacy and may not want to speak to you or share their stories.

Always consider the pros and cons before researching your family tree. While it is an interesting exercise, careful consideration is needed. 

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