Family history is something that can really go either way. Sometimes people are awfully proud of the roots that they come from. Others can be deeply ashamed. It has little to do with money or prestige, for there are certainly times when those with both attributes have mistreated others to the point that the family name is blemished beyond repair, & conversely there are times when those with humble beginnings go on to do great things. If there is something to be learned from all of the family histories that are passed down verbally & in print, it is that many things are lost in just a few short generations.
The bad will be passed down, as well, and that may be necessary as a warning against morals gone askew. Health problems also need to be discussed. But the focus of family histories should be the good things that have gone before. Take time to talk about these good things with those in your family (whether related by genetics or adoption). It's perhaps even more important for those who have been adopted to know the new family tree that they've been grafted into. In most cases, the good far outweighs the bad but the stories have been lost by lack of people ready to tell them. If your grandmother could throw bales just as fast as the men in your family, tell about her. It may inspire a girl who feels ashamed of her size or strength. If your grandfather was compassionate with animals & could cure almost anything that ailed them, tell about him. It may inspire a young man who is struggling with not being great in sports. If your family tends to be generous to a fault, discuss it as a good thing & that you'd rather be generous than miserly any day of the week.
Having a knowledge of your family history can give you roots from which to grow. When times get tough, you can look back and say, “I'm a (insert family name here) and we do NOT give up,” or any other such attribute that is looked upon as good in a particular family. For children who come from humble beginnings, this is perhaps even more important. Knowing that your family once had money, but it was given away during the depression, or knowing that your family was known for being the best at raising horses in a 4 state area can give children something to aspire to. Inspiration is necessary for everyone. Having the bar set high is not a bad thing. Of course we must not use it as a source of pressure or comparison, but knowing that they have come from greatness helps those of younger generations to know that they, too, can rise to greatness, even if it doesn't happen to be in the family business.
We all know that we pass on to the next generation far more by genetics & nature than we ever pass on through intention, nurture or education. Let those things that we pass on be looked upon in the kindest light that they can be looked upon. The people of yesteryear were just like us. Trying their best to make it in difficult times, & doing their best to raise another generation with hope instead of bitterness of heart. Perhaps they succeeded, or perhaps they left a void in that area. If they did, we can certainly begin to fill the void & begin good stories to be passed down. Let our stories be those that will inspire a younger generation & give them hope for a better future & a stronger family line for years to come.