Here is a simple family gram, with a dad (Nathan), mom (Ruth) and three daughters (Marilyn, Jane and Anna). By the way, can you guess which daughter is her mother's fave?
At the bottom of this page is a link that will let you print the symbols, instructions and a sample of a new family gram.
Actually these have always been called "genograms." They are a simple outline drawing that allows you to make a visual display of the various generations of your family. Below you'll see some examples of family grams with some explanation of the sort of information you'll be seeking about your family. These diagrams are important because 1) they make us aware of what we don't know about our families, 2) they can reveal important truths that were right in front of us without our recognizing them, 3) they can often show us where our family got "stuck."
Above you'll see the basic symbols often used to construct a family gram. There are no hard-and-fast rules about the symbols you use;they only have to make sense to you. You will have more success, in our experience, if you are consistent in what symbols you use. Below is a sample family gram with useful information.
Try to accumulate as much data as possible about your generation, those that come after you and two generations before you. Search for dates of births, deaths, weddings; careers, milestone events, personally significant facts, close and estranged relationships. Look for patterns and themes
To begin grasping the significance of a family gram, it’s best to focus on an individual and move from that person to understand the relationships and history of the entire family constellation. With the Donaldson family, you might look first at Lea on the third row, second from the left; note that she is twenty-four, was married to Werner and, after leaving him, married Stu, with whom she has an eighteen-month-old daughter, Astrid. Lea herself is the child of a divorced couple; her mother Trish was married to Charlie; after Lea’s birth, she left Charlie and married Sonny, with whom she had Lea’s half-brother and sister, Ronny and Rene. Note that Lea doesn’t get along well with her stepfather Sonny. The family gram also illustrates Lea’s grandparent generation: Trish’s parents are Delbert, who is deceased, and Astrid; Sonny’s birth parents are Carl and Anita Rene, who divorced after Sonny’s birth and Anita Rene married Vern. While Sonny has a rocky relationship with Lea, note that he is close to his mother. Most hand-drawn family grams contain a lot more information than what is contained on this diagram, which we’ve kept pretty simple (mostly because it looks a lot cleaner). Also, this diagram illustrates the “current ages” of family members; we observe that your family gram will be more accurate and workable if you list birth years rather than current ages. The Donaldson family is lucky; they’ll never get any older.
(this diagram and text is an excerpt from Fix Your Family, p. 26-27)