by Grant Goodvin

Recently, my grandson was showing me his new bicycle. As we admired the shape of the tires and the ease of changing the 21 speeds, I told him that his great-grandfather, my father, rode his bicycle across the state of Kansas—eight windy days from the Colorado border to the Missouri line, and his chain broke once. I described for my grandson how my father’s bicycle was like his new bike, and in some ways was unlike it.

Then I told him how my father often thought about future generations he would never meet. It was important to my father to instill a sense of connectivity between generations that carries on into the future, and it often happens through the things we prioritize and pursue: careers, marriages, churches and home life, among other endeavors.

Memorial Day is a natural time to remember our ancestors, especially those who served our country in some way, and reflect on the line of relationships that occurs down through the generations. One big mission of parenting and grandparenting is connecting our children and grandchildren to their past. We too seldom stop to consider how older generations think about future generations, or think about how present generations think about future generations.

The short conversation with my grandson challenged me to educate all my grandchildren about how my parents and grandparents approached life. Those stories, traditions and values add richness to family, and it’s likely up to us to think about how to pass them down and carry them forward.

It can be as simple as writing down details or assembling old photos that tell the stories worth preserving: grave site locations of past generations, how marriages were formed, tales of family vacations, and so on. As challenging or tedious as that project might seem right now, it’s worth it to capture and pass along our heritage for future generations we will not meet.

As you enjoy celebrations of Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and Father’s Day, consider what hopes, dreams, and words of encouragement you have for these as-yet-unmet future generations, and what you can do to help them stay connected. They will benefit from hearing the struggles and victories of family life, instilling in them a desire to think about those who come after them.

The past, present and future are connected by families who need to hear from each other.

Read more from Grant at Grandkids Matter here.

Grant Goodvin practiced as an attorney for 8 years, worked in his family businesses for 26 years, and founded Family Legacy Consultant Group in 2005. Grant and his wife Carol have been married for 45 years. They have three children, one daughter-in-law, one son-in-law and six grandchildren.