Give Your Family the Gift of Family Legacy for the Holidays

Date: Nov 25 2019

Susan Gell Meyers, Partner, Warner Norcross + Judd LLP

The holidays provide a perfect opportunity to share family legacy through stories of events, family fun and family hardship. These anecdotes help us feel connected, convey our legacy, generate pride and impart lasting life lessons. 

Opportunities to share family legacy

Traveling, shopping, cooking, taking a walk or watching a sporting event all present opportunities to tell your children and grandchildren stories that convey family values in a way that isn’t lecturing. Sharing a memory about life “back when” can get them laughing and asking questions, setting the stage for you to demonstrate a value important to the family. Be prepared with a few stories that demonstrate the family’s values.

Family story ideas

  • Talk about the origin of foods on the menu or family recipes that everyone enjoys. Are they from a different country, a fortunate cooking accident or a creation stemming from a lack of money or key ingredient in the past?
  • Encourage children to talk about their favorite family traditions or activities. Discuss how these came to be a part of family celebrations.
  • Encourage older generations to tell the stories that formed your family values.
  • Share stories of challenges and obstacles. How did the family survive, cope and persevere?
  • What challenges did the family/business face? How did it bring family/neighbors together?
  • How did couples meet?
  • Is there significance to family members’ names? 


Be ready when a teachable moment presents itself

A little preparation can improve the chances of making family legacy meaningful to your children and grandchildren.

  1. Be receptive to and encouraging of questions.
  2. Think in advance of stories that will convey important values to the next generation in ways that will be impactful to them.
  3. Develop questions that will generate discussion about family values (what are you thankful for; best holiday memory; best advice you have been given).

And if you are stumped, there are businesses that specialize in helping you assemble family photos, document your stories, create a family tree and produce videos to tell the family’s story.

Children care about family legacy

A recent survey of children in high-net-worth families showed that 9 out of 10 children surveyed claimed that the “most important thing they will inherit is their parents’ values,” and, according to a Wells Fargo survey, the majority of these children want to “sustain and build on their family’s legacy.”
The holidays are a perfect time for reflection and communication; and what better way to communicate family values than through stories.