Tips for Connecting Generations


Put away the cell phones and electronics this holiday season to make a generation connection.  Consider spending some time discovering your family’s stories with your children.

Tips for connectingAs family members are getting older, this is the perfect chance to capture their stories. Our parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents have stories to share such as their first ever television set, living through the history  that your children are studying in history class, and as the branches in the family tree they are the links to the family’s past.

Gandpa and tvConnecting the Generations

Over the past year, using her photographs, my children and I gathered stories from my 90 year old grandmother. On this journey, my children could hear the stories directly from her, see her expressions as she remembers the moments, and they could ask her questions.The Girls sosFor example, here is a photo of my grandmother (she is 3rd from the left) and her girlfriends. You could see the memories flooding back when she saw the picture. She explained that it was taken at a SOS social they put together for the servicemen – WW II. They would bake cookies, have a fancy punch bowl, bring out the record player, and gather at a house to host these social events to help with the war effort.  Just by looking at that photo I would have never known that.

My daughter became very engaged in this conversation, since she was covering WWII in history and was writing a report on women helping in the war effort. Generation connection made.

Tips for Making Connections

Family photos

  • Pull out the old photos or ask family members to bring some to share. The photos spark the connection.  Each picture is a quick snap shot of a moment, but there is a story. Inquired about – Who is in the picture? Where was it taken? When? Why? – year, season, occasion? What is the story behind it?
  • Spark conversation that might interest your children – my daughter loves the stories about cooking, traditions, and fashion trends.  My boys are drawn to the military stories.
  • My grandfather had no photos of his family, so we asked conversation questions.  Here is 140 Connecting the Generations Conversation Starters.
  • Take a picture of the photograph on your phone, give it a title, and then jotted down some notes on paper to use later.   NEVER write on or put tape on the back of a photograph unless it is “acid-free” or “photo archival”. The chemicals will damage the photo.
  • Save the photos to a cloud location (Dropbox, iCloud) or photo website, where other family members can have access to download and even add to the collection.
  • Consider videoing the conversation using your phone or DSL camera video option. The benefit is that you now have their voice preserved as well.   IMPORTANT: turn your phone horizontal when recording.
  • With the collected photos and stories create a slide show, photo book, or scrapbook.
  • To preserve the old photos, negatives, slides, and film they need to be transferred to a digital formats. Heat, humidity, and sunlight are a medias worst enemy. Consider contacting a local company that specialize in digital transfers.

gramsPlease, don’t put it off. My grandmother passed away in May. I don’t look back with regret saying “I wish I had….”.  Instead, my kids and I  can look at her photos to see her life, their legacy, and my family’s history. Knowing it didn’t leave with her.




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