Friday, September 24, 2010

Family Memoirs: Include Your Siblings

If you have siblings you've probably realized by now that you don't see eye to eye on everything. In fact, you can attend the same events and walk away with completely different experiences. Different points of view can be a real boon to capturing your family memories.

When I was a kid, my brothers and I took a family vacation to Jamaica with our Mom. I had so much fun going to the beach and to restaurants. I also remember being haunted by the poverty. My oldest brother, on the other hand, was bored. He spent most of his week reading under a palm tree. If we were to share recollections of that event now we would very likely have completely different memories.

Sometime when you have a to chance to visit with your siblings - even if it has to be on the phone - ask them to recall a specific event. Perhaps Christmas at Aunt Betty's house when you were kids. Ask them how they remember that experience.

Ideally, afterward, you would encourage them to write down their version of the event. If they protest, write down to the best of your ability, a recap of the conversation. When you finish writing send them a copy.

One of the best ways to get people writing is to start the writing process for them. You'll find that when they receive your document they will want to edit or re-write it. All the better for ensuring you capture their point of view.

Difficult situations from the past can also be handled this way. If your parents were divorced when you were young, you and siblings may remember it differently. Ask your siblings to recall or write about their memory of that time in your lives. Not only will it show you had different experiences it may just provide a healing experience as well.

The more siblings you have the more varied the memories of your event or situation will be. Contact your siblings soon and start capturing the events of your own childhood.


  1. I just had that experience with my sister: I had reconnected with someone from our youth, and we were reminiscing about our memories of his family home, and I shared it with my younger sister. I didn't remember if she had even spent any time there. She came back with "Not fair, making me cry so early in the morning!" I guess her attachment to the house was as strong as mine. You never know!

  2. Great idea - and it also works with parents and their siblings!! I have found that it is often hard to get my Mom to come up with interesting things from her past - even when I think I have pretty specific questions - but when she and her brothers get together they just feed off each other. I need to get my recorder fired up for the next get together!! [scratch that, first I need to PLAN the next get together!!]