Question of the Week: What traits do you see being passed through your family?

+23 votes

I hear it all the time: "You are the spitting image of your mom," or "You sure got your Uncle John's sense of humor."

What about your family seems to be passed from one generation to the next? Is it clear blue eyes? Or maybe an indomitable sense of adventure??

Tell us about it!

asked in The Tree House by Julie Ricketts G2G6 Pilot (252k points)
On my husband's side it is the way they walk, nothing odd about it but someone separated from us by a couple of centuries but bearing the same name - he and my son walk in exactly the same fashion.
On the maternal side my grandfather had a certain shape of ears, which my brother also inherited. We visited a gentleman of the same name interstate who was not related who showed us the book of the 'Family Name' with all the pictures & there were Grandpa's ears again of those who had left England and gone to New Zealand almost 200 years ago.
In my family is left handed ness. The Ker family is famous for it, including a couple of very old poems. The other thing is our eyes. I have a 200 yr old portrait on my wall of my greatx5 grandmother and the eyes have carried through to my son Jake and myself.
In my family it would have to be the BIG Brown EYES and our tallness :-).  You always found those pesky step stools in every house , yes, including mine ! If you were taller that 5'1 then we just knew the mailman got a hold of Momma !! LOL.  As for Dad and all the men in the family, Well, as my son said one day when he was all done "growing" ..."Thanks A LOT MOM" !!!  He made it to 5'4. God bless him.  My granddaughter is the exact image of me.. When she was 2 yrs old we put he photo next to mine , WOW. When she was 10 years old , I again put one of her photos next to mine.  If not for the age of my photo you couldn't tell us apart.
My paternal line has a huge number of recent members being o somewhere on the Autism Spectrum. 99% of my paternal cousins, paternal half-siblings & I were all blonde hair & blue-eyed kids.

My mother's paternal line has a history of twins, we didn't know about twins in the family until my twins (boy/girl) were about 4, there is also a predominate boy/girl factor with them too.

My Mother's mother's mother's family history is unknown which is what lead me on to this ancestral adventure.
My Paternal Grandma's big ears and never met a stranger. There are six Engineers in the family.

This photo shows me on the left and my 5x great-grandfather, George Edwards, on the right.  The pictures were taken approximately 130 years apart (1997 vs. 1867). I was born in 1977 and George was born n 1772, so genetically, we were born nearly 200 years apart. It's amazing to see the resemblances between me and my 5x great-grandfather. I just wish I hadn't been wearing a hat because the forehead and hairline are eerily similar as well.

Jeremy / George Edwards

That is an amazing picture, Jeremy!
Would that be the little toe, curled under (slightly) the toe next to it?

Do you also have a high arch?
My moms German side have peaked eyebrows, & blue eyes. My dads side were thick,ridged eyebrows.dark complication.

52 Answers

+7 votes
Best answer

My dad used to call it the Thumbprint Chin. In some of the photographs I have found it a common trait . My brothers and I also share the trait.

answered by Charles West G2G6 Mach 1 (13.3k points)
selected by Martyn Mulford
My grandfather, father, me, and one of my children all have it too!  We call it a "butt" chin. LOL

one of the cousins who sent me this comment made by RSP West


Annie Pearl West said her Poppa RSP,
told her it was done before birth when the babies were in heaven
the West babies were busy laughing, telling jokes, and all talking
at once and keeping the other babies crying and awake so The
Lord touched each of their chins and said “Shhhh"………

+10 votes
My father, his nephew in Finland, my self and one of my daughters all have webbed toes.
answered by Norm Lindquist G2G6 Mach 4 (43.9k points)
My grandmother, mother, myself, and 2/3 of my children have them too.
+7 votes
This one is really hard to answer, because the first thing that popped into my head was that we are all intelligent, which sounds stuck-up.  The second thing was that we all pass along rebellion against authority.  But maybe that's a U.S. trait instead of a family trait.  Oh, and we can all sing and play instruments.  But that's cultural as well.
answered by J. Crook G2G6 Pilot (150k points)
+6 votes
I look like my dad and he has his mother's looks.  If you can think of Shrek having a sister.  No, I'm not joking! My grandmother was a very handsome woman.

Personality, my grandfather, his son, grandson son and my brother have the very same attitude, It leads me to be believe being a jerk is hereditary, no; I'm not joking about that either.  Nature/nurture?
answered by Rod Kenny G2G Crew (500 points)
+8 votes
My wife's family... are all the most stubborn people in the world. Really! All my in laws who married into the family agree. She's passed that along to my sons. My family, on the other hand, is nearly perfect. :-)
answered by Bill Vincent G2G6 Mach 3 (35.7k points)
edited by Bill Vincent
just be great it is not the really bad things, people need to learn to adjust and be greatful for people for who they are, and not the outward apperenace and worldly things.
My lot say I'm stubborn. I reckon I come to a reasoned conclusion about something and stick by it until someone shows me I'm wrong. What's wrong with that?
+5 votes
Upper body strength. My mother's great grandfather possessed fabled upper body strength, as did her father, and other male relatives. During high school, I was undefeated in arm wrestling contests, despite never having worked out, even once.
answered by Bill Vincent G2G6 Mach 3 (35.7k points)
+11 votes
I'm very talented with an ax. I can chop wood very effectively.  It turns out that my sixth great grandmother was Innocent Borden who killed 3 Indians  in a matter of minutes with an ax as they attacked and broke into her home.  Strangely enough, she is also the 2nd cousin of Lizzie Borden who had her own claim to fame with an ax nearly 112 years later.
answered by James Stratman G2G6 Mach 5 (56.5k points)

But can you make firewood like Daniel?  :D
Okay, you have me there.  I can't compete with the great Daniel Boone. :)
I understand the axe.  It's an artful skill, like Reggie Jackson swinging a baseball bat or Jack Nicholas with a golf drive.  It's all in the release....
My father had it.  I would be over there trying to beat down a tree with my axe and my father would just walk over and take it out with 2 or 3 strokes.  He acquired this know-how by being part of a construction battalian in Alaska during WWII.  He said they were often marched into the forest and made to cut down trees to make anti-tank obstacles.  I commented his must have felt lucky to have spent more than three years in Alaska during the war.  He said if I thought it was lucky to go to Alaska and sleep outside in a tent for three years he had a different opinion of luck.  :)
I don't know if this is really cool or really scary :D
+6 votes
My ggg grandfather was a non-conformist minister in Chard.  In the 1980s the graveyard was going to be turned into a parking lot for a new supermarket, and his remains were to be re-interred at the CoE grave yard.

A distant cousin, who had been doing genealogical research, gathered as many descendants as he could find for the re-dedication ceremony.  There were about 50 of us.

The interesting thing is that, in the group picture, it is easy to tell which are the descendants and which are the spouses.  Yes, some of them were closely related, but there were quite a few 4th cousins, and you could still tell which ones were the Gunns.  I can't put my finger on what it is, maybe slightly long faces, but there was definitely a family look.
answered by Janet Gunn G2G6 Mach 5 (57.5k points)
+4 votes
Lots of photographers in the family, for several generations.
answered by Gayel Knott G2G6 Mach 2 (22k points)
+5 votes
I look like my grandmother, my daughter looks like me and my granddaughter looks like her mom. We are 4 generations of ladies who look alike. When my daughter was in high school a kid saw me and asked if I was her mother because we looked so much alike.

When we go places together people comment about how much we look alike (except grandma who is no longer with us). -*0
answered by CaryAnn Hess G2G6 Mach 1 (12k points)
+6 votes
A photographic memory! My father has one, as do I, as do both of my boys (but not my daughter). Interestingly enough, we are also the ones with autism.
answered by Summer Orman G2G6 Mach 8 (82.7k points)
+7 votes
Most of what I have seen are medical traits, Hashimotos hypothyroid, heart disease, and a brain chemistry issue.  But I have my mom's voice, my paternal grandmother's eyes, my fathers glare.  I have a half 1C1R that we share striking similarities to - hand size and shape and facial features and her brother and my brother looked alike when they were younger.  

If you look at pictures of myself, my cousin, and my niece as young children, you will only be able to figure out who is who by the quality of the picture.
answered by Catherine Ryan G2G5 (5.6k points)
Interesting point about voices. I too have my mother's voice, as did my sister. After my mother passed away, it upset my aunt when I called her :(
+3 votes
This was definitely a motivator in getting involved with genealogy. I also collected cousins on Facebook with the same motive. What are the common traits? When I was taking a class on Photoshopping old photos I was told that I looked like my father's grandmother.  A cousin thinks she looks like my grandmother.  My great-grandmother's generation had professors and ministers, but not so many now.  There are some cousins involved  with computers. There are some long lived relatives including my parents. Some cousins claim singing, but that didn't come down my branch, although I have an interest in dancing as does another cousin.  I have been finding the crazy relatives, although that is not talked about. I just found out about a suicide from the cemetery records. There don't seem to be flamboyant types, no actors, no high risk takers. Of all the relatives on Facebook I identify more with the nerdy or artistic types. There are some with common interests, but no more than my non-relative friends. It may be hard to see the commonality because it may be things we assume, a stranger might be better at spotting it.  These are mostly long distance observations having grown up far from the family and only occasionally meeting cousins. This searching for commonality or intimacy or Family it is a part of genealogy. Is it easier to feel a link with a distant relative. My husband jokes that he likes my dead relatives better than the live ones.
answered by Sue Hall G2G6 Mach 8 (81.5k points)
+5 votes

Our family has always been whatever religion was viewed as non-conforming at the time! If everyone else was Anglican/Church of England, we were Primitive Methodists in Derbyshire, emigrating to an intentional spiritual community in Saskatchewan(!) or Mormons in the 1800s in Cambridgeshire, then trekking across to Utah. If everyone else was Presbyterian, we were RC.  As soon as the Reformation happened in Baden-Württemberg, we were teaching at the University of Tübingen.  When everyone else in the 20th century was easily willing to accept any Christian group, we were on the fringe as Christian Scientists, Kabbalarians, Hare Krishnas...I would not have known this without building the family tree.

answered by Shirlea Smith G2G6 Mach 4 (45.2k points)
+4 votes

Sadly, ours is medical - Lynch Syndrome, a genetic problem which causes early-onset colon cancer. 5 generations worth. But at least now we know, and there are ways to help slow it down.

But then on the positive side: a love of glass. We have glass blowers, glass makers, and glass collectors galore.

answered by Bobbie Hall G2G6 Mach 7 (79.9k points)
+3 votes
I have autosomnal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD), which I, my father, my uncle, my cousin and my sister have.  ADPKD is a genetic disorder which affects 1 in 1000 individuals worldwide, meaning that out of the 7 billion people in the world, about 7 million, which is about equal to the population of the U.S. state of Washington, have it.
answered by Nicolas LaPointe G2G4 (4.4k points)

polycystic kidney disease runs in my family also. My father, sister, nephew, uncle and cousin have all died from it and we have had our share of transplants.  Don't know offhand if it is the same as the disease in your family. 


+4 votes

I recently found a research article that suggests that most clinicians would agree, encountering a family history of bipolar disorder is not the status quo,  and that , " it is quite rare to find families in which bipolar disorder affects multiple members over several generations," based on Classic Mendelian Genetics -Patterns of Inheritance. (Kerner, Berit. “Genetics of Bipolar Disorder.” The Application of Clinical Genetics 7 (2014): 33–42. PMC. Web. 17 Apr. 2017.

As far as family inheritance patterns go, nature has been a predominant force over nurture in genetic inheritance of Bipolar disorder. It has been passed down through the generations, even when nurture provides the most ideal circumstances. I can identify in each generation, a person who has bipolar disorder or a similar affect; my son, my mom, all the way back to my 4th great grandfather. 

The symptoms appear to begin with my 4th great grand father and the disorder continues down through his generational lines to the present day. He died in in 1871 as a patient at the Dorthea Dix Hospital,in Raleigh, North Carolina.  The hospital is name after Dorthea Dix, one of my favorite historical American activist's. As a mother of child with bipolar disorder I am very involved in mental health advocacy. Having  had prior knowledge of Dorthea Dix and her accomplishments, the discovery that my grandfather was a patient at this hospital was a"surreal"surprise

answered by Elisa Mayfield G2G6 Mach 1 (19.6k points)
I can relate to this. My father was bipolar, I am bipolar, my son was bipolar and my daughter is bipolar.

The difference is  that my father didn't realize what his problem was, my son and I sought medical attention, my daughter refuses to believe there is a problem.
+6 votes
Psychic ability, which we call "The Gift." Usually it manifests when someone in the family dies but other unusual events have occurred. My Nan informed my mother's landlady .."to beware of the man with the snake." She did this a number of times, cutting a long story short, the man was pocketing her insurance premiums.  He happened to wear a ring in the shape of a snake. He was captured.  My dad had the gift too and both my sisters will carry on conversations with people who aren't there.  My daughter also has said some things that she had no way of knowing..

The other thing some relatives have is Astigmatism. I was told it was from the Irish side of the family!
answered by Rionne Brooks G2G6 Mach 3 (34.6k points)
OH MY GOSH. People always think I'm weird but I SWEAR my grandmother, my mother and me all have that oddball sixth sense when it comes to having a niggle about things. I don't have conversations with not-present people, but I've had a "something isn't right" feeling (and sure enough, something was happening) or other things that might be chalked up to coincidence but in my mind I'm like "oooh girl that's spooky."
+2 votes
Love this question!

I was sure I was adopted (and my brother is from the cabbage patch) as I don't think either of us look like any of our ancestors. However, when seeing a picture of my 3rd g-grandfather, i felt like I was looking at an old-timey picture of my brother. The forehead, nose and eyes were remarkably similar. I found a picture of my g-grandmother and she's given me her chin and nose as well.

Aside from physical features, the one thing that seems to be a "tradition" is to be in public service of some sort. One family branch fought in every war, another is peppered with soldiers and law enforcement. I've worked in law enforcement as a dispatcher for years and was amazed to discover a g-grandfather had been a police officer in Louisville, KY. He as accidentally shot and killed in a training accident. While this is very sad to me, it was fascinating to see how our family seems "wired" to be helpers of some sort. :)
answered by Victoria Rice G2G1 (1.5k points)
+2 votes
On my Dad's side, there are a couple of things that we notice. Bad tempers, laughter, grudge holders, all but a couple of them have dark hair and eyes, There is a enough blondes in the family tree that you get the occasional blonde in the bunch.

On my Mom's side, we have multiple ancestors who lived to 100 or more. Most have a olive tone skin and don't really have an issue with sunburns. There are also a lot my relatives on that side go prematurely grey. I have a cousin who was totally grey headed by the time he finished high school. I started going grey when I was eleven. I would be almost completely white headed if I didn't pay my hairdresser a fortune to cover it up.
answered by Sharon Ray G2G6 Mach 1 (11.1k points)
I've been told I look like both my maternal and paternal grandmothers and I guess in a way I do look like both.  Red hair is prevalent in my father's family on both sides and pug noses.  Both sides appear to have a stubborn streak a mile wide.

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