View Full Version : Random "Deep Thoughts" about digging dep into family history

September 16th, 2016, 09:47 AM
Is it a good idea to dig deeply into family history, will you unearth the grudges that separated families for years, maybe forever?

I have done some research on my family, it's mostly dates and have shared old photos with one of my cousins on my father's side, he's my father's brother's son. Recently been in contact with a 2nd cousin who shared some info and photos with us, he's the grandson of my father's other brother. Problem is that my father and his brothers were never very close, many fights and grudges held for years. Everyone has been very nice but since our families were estranged for so many years I'm afraid we may have to deal with the impressions we formed as children. We only know what our parent's told us but years ago another cousin said, "The sins of the father are visited upon his children".

September 16th, 2016, 09:54 AM
Oh, I'm so sorry for your families. I hear so many stories, and realize how fortunate I am that we all get along so well. My dad was the youngest of 12 and mom one of 8 children. Lots of cousins. We don't see each other often anymore, only because extended families are so busy. Trust me, we've had our arguments, but fortunately with my siblings we all get over it within a few weeks at most. Am praying for you that someday you may all enjoy each other and forgive the past.

September 16th, 2016, 10:31 AM
If you actually feel they are childish enough to still make an issue of it, don't go there. No need to drag it all out again.

September 16th, 2016, 10:46 AM
Mayinjerst - I'm with you. I have not spoken to my two sisters in almost 20 years (after my dad passed away) My mom passed away almost 30 years ago. After she passed my two sisters (mainly my middle sister and her husband) decided it was time to confront my Grandparents (my mothers parents) about some stuff that my granddaddy when we (me and my 2 sisters and my cousin) younger. Well needless to say that brought tension between everyone. I was real close to my aunts and uncles on that side. Even my cousins. I let a few years pass and then I decided for my peace of mind to try and mend fences so to say. Well there was a lot of tension. My aunts and uncles would speak when we were out some where and saw each other. I had one uncle which was really my favorite that was in the service and when ever he would come home we would try and get together but there was still some tension. Now my grandparents have been gone for about 8 years now and we try to get together when we can but the time that has come between us all still has a little tension there.

So I guess I said all of that to say this do what you feel is right in your heart but just prepared for the worst. Who knows maybe in time things will be better. They will never be like they were when you were little but you will have family and you will feel good because you tried to rebuild that bridge between you and them.

My dad and his step dad was always fighting and we would go months with out seeing my grandparents on his side. So after I got married and had children of my own I started working things out with them and we would have our moments but we also worked through it. Those grandparents are now gone as well but me and my two uncles see each other more now than we did when we got old enough to do our own thing.

I'm still working on my situation so it is a work in progress but hey baby steps. Good luck. Don't give up.

September 16th, 2016, 11:16 AM
I tend to let the past be the past. Life is just too short for all the drama some people seem to thrive on. If your family history is filled with lifetimes of hard feelings and grudges, those will not be mended by anyone other than the ones directly involved, if at all. And the ones not directly involved will still have chosen a side.

Whether friend or family, I surround myself with positive, uplifting people and situations as much as possible. I would be inclined to let it go. But whichever way you choose to go with this, I wish you all the best!

September 16th, 2016, 12:23 PM
Being a genealogist my rule is--if it's in this generation don't mess with it, if it's in the last generation gather the facts, put them on paper and put them with your will for your kids, anything beyond that is fair game. If it has the potential to hurt someone still alive, like illegitimacy, I contact the person and ask their permission to include it in the family book. Otherwise, it stays hidden until that person is dead.
Why not make a deal with your family to end the grudge. Have a family reunion and get to know each other as you are now. Just my suggestions.

September 16th, 2016, 12:29 PM
I'm for letting the past be the past as we didn't have anything to do with the troubles from years ago and so far these cousins seem to have the same idea. The 2nd cousin is thinking of having a reunion so that is why this Deep Thought came to me.

One confusing aspect in finding male relatives is that so many have the same name. My grandfather, James, had 3 sons who named their first sons after their father and so did my brother and cousins. We have so many James T's that he have to use nicknames when we talk about them.

September 16th, 2016, 01:21 PM
May, thanks for starting the random thoughts thread.

Since the family troubles were from years ago I think your 2nd cousin has the right idea. Maybe you and several of your cousins could talk about plans for a reunion.

September 16th, 2016, 04:33 PM
I've hit some rough patches like this when combing through my family history too. I have learned to abide by what LauraP said. It helps also to not put your feelings or knowledge into the conversation so the other family member can speak a bit easier. Hopefully since this was between the brothers, you 'kids' can talk a little more openly.

Best of luck and enjoy all the research!

September 16th, 2016, 05:11 PM
Some times those grudges hid nasty secrets. I walked away from my fractured, miserable, grudge holding family 30 years ago and have never had even a small desire to reconnect with anyone. During my 20's I listened to so much shocking revelations, back biting and complaining that I moved across the country to get away. I was told that my mom's sister had an affair with my dad, my dad got someone pregnant while my mom was pregnant with my sister, my mom was having an affair with the oil delivery man, my brother was committing incest against my sister for years and on and on. Yeah, these are just the things you want to hear every family reunion!
My DH has dealt with the same so we decided years ago that we are each others rock and hiding place. When our kids would ask about extended family we named all of our dearest friends. We then explained that sometimes blood relatives are not nice or kind people and it hurts to be around them. If my grown kids wanted to connect with family I think I would be physically ill.
I hope this works out for you and I wish you luck. Everyone wants a family to love and it's painful when you don't have one.

September 17th, 2016, 07:15 AM
I always say you can choose your friends but you can't choose your family. BUT you can choose to be friends with your family!!

September 17th, 2016, 12:40 PM
I would not borrow someone else problems or "go back there" unless there was healing involved. There is a reason it is called the past and baggage. I went through similar situations in the "past," and realized folks have the right to change, adjust to injustices (real or perceived), grow from the experience, or not, and move it down the road. I try not to make my happiness and peace of mind contingent upon the quality of someone else's. There are two sides to every story.

September 18th, 2016, 01:16 AM
I try not to make my happiness and peace of mind contingent upon the quality of someone else's. There are two sides to every story.

I agree, there is a pretty deep and dark family history on my DH's side, and I try to stay out of it as much as I can. It helps me to understand, to some extent, why my MIL is such a bitter and miserable person, but that still doesn't forgive the way she treats those of us who are living.

My family history is complicated too, but more is out in the open. I have uncles who served time in prison for various things, and that was kept secret from me when I was a child, but by my teen years I was in contact with them and they have since passed away.

There doesn't seem to be anyone hanging onto angst in our generation though, whatever differences there are are not from the past but from the present. I distance myself from many of my cousins who are heavy drinkers and dabble in drugs. We've already lost one cousin to complications from addiction, it's just not a lifestyle that I am comfortable socializing with nor that I want my children exposed to. It's pretty easy for us to keep our distance though, being 6000 miles away, and even when we're home, we're still in GA where the rest are in NJ and MD.

Anyway, I think my point is that I don't see any sense either in hanging onto grudges of the past, or trying to make other people happy just because they are family.

Good luck, May, I hope your family can focus on happiness and the good things you have to share while taking past mistakes as a guidepost in moving forward.

September 18th, 2016, 11:52 AM
I agree with Shirley, hold out the Olive branch but if they want to rehash old history forget it and move on.

September 18th, 2016, 03:02 PM
Rocking Lou said, "Good luck, May, I hope your family can focus on happiness and the good things you have to share while taking past mistakes as a guidepost in moving forward."
and it seems that we will go forward just sharing good memories. 2nd cousin is overjoyed that I could send him a photo taken of his grandparents, his father and uncle that he remembered his grandmother had.