It Matters What Children See and Hear


It matters what children see and hear. They breathe it in like air and will model it before your eyes. Their models are their parents and family members — we know what we know from our families. We inadvertently do what they do without even knowing it until someone points it out.

My daughter sent me a video of my 11 month old grandchild. She was “reading a book.” She knew just what to do with a book. You sit with it; you open it, look at the page, than you say words. When you are done talking, you turn the page from right to left. When you close the book you pick up another book. While watching her sister, our 4 year old granddaughter said, “Oh my goodness”, which informed me what she hears Mommy and Daddy say in their home.

Everything you know you learned in your family. Your family values, ethics, habits, sense of right and wrong shape your behaviors and influence the decisions you make every day. I tell my students, in a few years, you will leave your home and go out into the world to make a life for yourself. Will the rules and expectations you grew up with be the same, or will they change? A Genogram / family tree project is an opportunity to evaluate your family — what do you like, what do you not like, what will you change when you make your own home. Your home — your rules.

The purpose of the family tree is to answer the questions

  1. Why am I the way I am?
  2. Why do I say the things I say?
  3. Why do I respond the way I do?
  4. Why am I argumentative, or shy, or quiet, or boisterous or angry, or calm — you get the picture?
  5. Why do I believe what I believe?

To assist in looking back at family history, download a free genogram lesson by clicking on the link:

And/or check out A Family Tree (Genogram) Project on my blog at:


If you would like to create a genogram of your family, this is a simple way to go about the process. It does take time to gather the information. Some information you can get directly from family members. You might also want to research some of the free internet databases available to get birth, death, marriage, military service dates etc. You can take this project as far as you want. I have divided it into a 4 part process.

Part 1: The basics – the People (Please use Red for this Information)

  1. Use a poster (or tape 4 sheets of paper together), or you can use one of the templates provided (also there are a lot of free templates available on line.)
  2. Get the names of your grandparents, their birth dates (the year they were born is fine), wedding dates, divorce date, state where they were born.
  3. The Next generation — your grandparents had children (your parents are at this level). Information Needed:  Childrens’ names, birth date (year), wedding dates, divorce date, state where they were born
  4. Your generation — your parents had children (your brothers and sisters). Information Needed: names, birth date (year), wedding dates, divorce dates, state where they were born.
  5. Place all the information you have gathered on the paper or poster. You will need space to place this info

Part 2:  More specifics – Health issues, Addictions, Education, Occupation

  1. Any diseases or health conditions. (for example:  cancer, diabetes, anemia, heart attacks, high blood pressure etc,)  (Use Blue for this Info)
  2. Any addictions: examples — Alcohol, tobacco, legal drugs, illegal drugs.  (For example:  my parents were young during World War 2.  75% of that generation was addicted to tobacco.) (Use Green for this Info)
  3. Level of education. (for example:  completed high school (H.S.), completed college (C), went to college but didn’t complete college (c), Vocational school (VC), military — military has excellent schools of training (M).)  (Use Blue for this Info)
  4. Occupation, Job, Profession, housewife, unemployment, or disabled (Use Blue for this Info)

Part 3:  Relationships / Dynamics 

  1. Relationships with family Classify the relationships as:  (Use Black for this Information

                    a. Close relationship

                    b. Distant relationship

                    c. Hostile relationship

                    d. Cut off relationship

(For example:  I grew up in California, my father’s parents and his brother’s family lived 2 hours away.  The rest of the Webber family lived in Missouri.  The Missouri part of the family was distant because they were so far away.  I saw them when I was 6 and when I was 12.  The adults in the family wrote family Christmas letters.)

Part 4:  Analysis 

Write a one to two paragraph summary of what you learned about your family; what you appreciate about your family, what you didn’t realize before, what you might need to change in order to accomplish your goals.

Color Code Key

RED                names, dates, state born

        BLUE              Diseases, job, education

        BLACK           Relationships

        GREEN           Addictions

        ORANGE        Religion — Optional

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