Use Your Family History “Taproots” to Help Anchor Children

Contributed By Twila VanLeer, Church News contributor

  • 17 March 2016

Sister Rosemary M. Wixom speaks at the RootsTech conference at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, February 6, 2016.  Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

Article Highlights

  • Children’s understanding of their familial roots can help them see their place in the plan of salvation.
  • Coming to know their ancestors as real people can bolster children’s faith and help them build testimonies.

The taproot of a plant is the first and strongest and the one on which it builds its support system. Other roots grow from it and disseminate to search the soil for nourishment.

Families can use this principle to gather and build family history and incorporate it into the lives of current generations, said Sister Rosemary Wixom, Primary general president and one of the keynote speakers during the recent RootsTech Family History Day sponsored by the Church.

What is the taproot that will anchor a child in the wind?

The taproot, as the first and earliest of a plant’s roots, creates stability and resistance to drought, stores food, and is self-sufficient and resilient. The winds of the world can have less effect if the taproot is strong.

Sister Wixom said she explored the idea of taproots in response to a question from a Church leader: What is the taproot that will anchor a child in the wind? 

Her study of the question disclosed that the taproot, as the first and earliest of a plant's roots, creates stability and resistance to drought, stores food, and is self-sufficient and resilient.

In the same way, a child’s understanding of his familial roots can help him to see his place in the plan of salvation. He comes to understand where he came from, why he is on earth, and where his ultimate destiny lies, she said. The winds of the world can have less effect if the taproot is strong.
 
Confessing that she is not (yet) a devoted family history buff, Sister Wixom said, “I’m a beginner. It must become a priority for all of us.” Her role to date, she said, has been to provide cookies for her husband as he diligently pursues family history. She suggested humorously that she might spend her first time in eternity sorting out and identifying the many containers of family photos she has accumulated and set aside for later attention. As a practical first step, however, she has begun a notebook with random items concerning her ancestors. She gleans information from funerals, family gatherings, and many other resources, she said.

“Tell their stories”

A tree can be symbolic of origins, of the bearing of nourishing fruit, and can provide the materials from which temple work can be done for those who have left mortality, she said. Researching a family's own genealogical tree can discover stories of faith, trials, endurance, and even weaknesses and other human qualities that can be instructive for children, she added, citing examples from her own family tree. Coming to know their ancestors as real people can bolster children’s faith and help them build testimonies. “Tell their stories,” Sister Wixom urged. “Those stories can create connections. Don’t let them be lost.”

She used as an example her mother, now in her mid-90s, who enriched a Christmas gathering with her recollections of family stories. It was an experience that made a family event even more meaningful. The end result of accumulating family history should be the sharing of temple ordinances by proxy for those who have gone before. “Take the next steps. Find names to take to the temple,” she advised. “Anchor all family members to the taproot.”
 
View Sister Wixom's talk online at LDS.org.