As family heirlooms pass from one generation to the next, it becomes increasingly difficult to explain to your children and grandchildren why these items hold so much value and significance. How do you even start to explain the importance of caring for these priceless treasures? Whether it’s a great aunt’s china set, the dining room table that your father built or just an old photograph from a family reunion, it’s important to you that these items survive to be enjoyed and cherished for decades to come. Here are a few simple tips to help ensure your children and your children’s children continue to care for these heirlooms the same way you have.
Start With Something They Love
Talking about the importance of family heirlooms is also a lesson in responsibility. You want children to understand that caring for these items takes time and dedication, but it can be overwhelming to start with something fragile and irreplaceable. Start with something that already has significance to them, like the family pool. This can be a great way for them to start to understand how something they cherish needs maintenance on a regular basis if it’s going to last. Poolcenter has a great guide that breaks down the yearly maintenance schedule for your pool. Having your kids help take care of these chores can be a great stepping stone toward creating a sense of ownership for things they value.
Everything Has A Story
Children are not born with an inherent appreciation for precious jewels or fine furniture, and you can’t guarantee that they will ever fully appreciate these things. However, you can make them understand why these things are important as symbols of your family’s unique history. Before they start to actually care for family heirlooms, they need to understand why they should care. Where did they come from? Who was the first family member to own them? How long have they been in the family, and how long have you been caring for them? These items will quickly start to seem much more significant, and your children will start to feel like part of a much bigger story.
Show, Don’t Tell
Don’t just hand them a box of antiques and say, “these are yours now.” Take the time to sit with your kids or grandkids and show them exactly how each item should be cared for. When it comes to things like furniture, jewelry or stamps, caring for heirlooms can sometimes be complicated and require special knowledge to be done correctly. Tell them the story, but show them how to care for the item. And show them more than once. It’s only through repetition that they learn the proper skills, which they can pass down to their own children when the time is right.
Meet Them Halfway
There are lots of new tools that can help bring your family’s heirloom preservation into the 21st century, and the younger generation might just be the tech-savvy teacher who helps bring them there. If you have a box of of old photographs, work together to scan these photographs and create a digital archive that can then be shared with the whole family. Or maybe you still have an heirloom that’s shrouded in a bit of mystery. The Internet can be a great place to start filling in the gaps and finding answers. This can be a great way for you and your young ones to travel back in time while pushing your family’s history well into the future.