Generating Idea Prompts for Family Stories

by - July 26, 2018

A Beautiful Life by Julianne Rigali
A Beautiful Life by Julianne Rigali

When chronicling our family history, sometimes we hit a roadblock. We simply can't think of what to share. If you are a genealogy buff, this is less likely to be true. You probably have many family stories you have acquired over time.

However, if you are new to creating and celebrating your family history, you may not know where to begin.

Even though my father has many stories of our ancestors, it seemed to me the best place to start would be with how he met my mother.  It's why I'm here and it's nostalgic. 

Face to Face With Mortality

My father is currently in his 70's and lying in a hospital bed. Perhaps family history is escalating in importance because I am face to face with the mortality of our lives.

My oldest child now has a child. I am a grandmother. My parents are aging. Time is fleeting. Yet life is beautiful. 

The more I study family history, the more I see how important each life was during its time, yet it has passed. What will I leave to my future generations?

It's hard to imagine that someday my great-grandchildren will read about my life and think it sounds old-fashioned, in the way I perceive what my great-grandmother did back in her day.

Passing on the Torch

Yet, here we are. We have the ability to pass on light and truth to our generations. We can share what we believe about life, finances, religion, and politics.

Perhaps our future generations will think we had such limited knowledge or perhaps it will shed light if they are being deceived by a corrupt government/church/bank in their future generations.

Write respectfully, so that all future generations may enjoy learning from your knowledge, whether they agree or disagree.


However, if you are at a standstill, there are so many ways to get your creative juices flowing. We can share things like our favorite meal our mammas made. When describing it, sit for a minute and take it all in. Remember the scent, the look, the texture, and how it made you feel. Describe it. When did she serve it? Where did she serve it? What did her kitchen look like? Bring your reader into your seat with you and help them taste your mamma's cooking.

What about your first job? How did you decide upon your profession?  What is your favorite memory of a holiday? What is the worst thing that happened to you when you attended school?

Interviewing the Past

Simply think of questions you wish you could ask your deceased family members.  If you were given an hour to sit down with one of them, what questions would you ask them? Some questions would be to fill in the blanks on info you need for the family tree, but surely some would be questions based on curiosity about their lives.

In fact, what a great idea prompt. If you could interview any person from your past, who would it be, why, and what would you ask them?

It's really not that difficult to generate ideas and write about your family, passions, and memories. It's a matter of putting the pen to paper or opening a word document on your computer and begin.

Begin, just begin.

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