The Importance of Sharing Our Stories


A few months ago I shared with you about what it’s like parenting my bi-racial children.  They are unique in that they come from a multi-cultural background.  My story and past is very different from my husband’s story and past.  Separately we have this rich history and together we are creating our own, layering on top of the foundation that has already been started.

Here is a brief glimpse into my story.  I am an only child.  My mother is 1 of 6.  My Mom’s mother was 1 of 13 and was raised on a farm.  My Mom’s father was a WWII veteran and an orphan (right here in Burlington at what is now Burlington College on North Ave.) until the age of 16 when he was allowed to leave on his own.  My father is 1 of 6 boys!  He is Canadian (I am dual citizen) and emigrated here with my grandparents from Quebec when he was very young.  My father’s parents were farmers growing up and started their family (and marriage) quite early (16).

Images from my story

Here is a snippet from my husband’s story.  Michael is 1 of 3 kids.  He was born and raised in Tempe, AZ just one month after his parents refugeed over from Cambodia.  Both of his parents and their families survived the horrors of the Khmer Rouge living through communist concentration camps for 4 years.  They are Chinese by blood but Cambodian culturally.  His mom raised his sister along with him and his younger brother by herself from the time he was 10.  On his father’s side Michael is the oldest son of the oldest son of the family, and now Aden, our 1st son, is the oldest son.

Images from Michael’s story

Once again these are just snippets of our history, I could fill pages with details but that is not the point of this.  I think about this, this passing on of history, so much because as time goes by and the older generations start to age and pass on, I feel as though I am pressed for time to pass on this history to my children.  They are still so young yet and we are separated by time and distance from many family members.  And to be honest, I’m not sure they would or could appreciate the story they are inheriting.  Not yet!

I want my children to look back on their history and glean life lessons and draw strength from what they see there.  I want them to believe that children are a blessing and family is a gift.  I want them to remember the orphans in this world.  They should know that hard work and determination always pays off.  I want them to have a sense of adventure because their history is from not just around the country but around the world.  I want them to fight for justice and help the oppressed.  I want them to know that women are strong and to be respected.  And I want them to understand honor and tradition. 

We do have family trees mapped on my side and a book written about my husband’s family’s escape but there’s more to our stories beyond words.  When my grandmother died she took with her the recipe to the most delicious fudge I’ve ever tasted.  When Michael’s mom passes away we may never know what she does to make the absolute best egg rolls I’ve ever had.  Food is so much a part of our story and often times never properly recorded and handed down. 

So how do we do this, this passing on of history from one generation to the next?  Is it sufficient to map out our families or to write it down in a journal or video our loved ones cooking?  Whatever you do and however you do it I can guarantee that you will only bless your child.

Have any of you out there shared your stories with you children?  Have any of you recorded, in any way, your family’s past? 


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