BACK TO Home Page 50 CONVERSATION TOPICS Families and Family relationships

Stories you can use to start conversation or to add interest to speeches or presentations


Resources for Speakers - Anecdotes About Families and Family Relationships

Stories you can use to start conversation or to add interest to speeches or presentations

Family Tree

Since the death of Confucius in 479 B.C., all his descendants have been registered. With over 2 million registered descendants alive today, it is the largest family tree in the world.

If you go back 30 generations (assume a generation represents 25 years, so that is 750 years back to 1250 AD) means you had over 1000 million ancestors. But since far fewer than 1 billion people alive in 1250, it means your mother and father had many common ancestors (which probably explains a few things.)

British rapper M.I.A. named her debut album "Arular" after the nom de guerre of her father, who fought in his native Sri Lanka as a Tamil Tiger. Her hope - which would be realized - was that he would one day Google his old name, find her album, and reconnect with her.

Writers Ralph Waldo Emerson and Ray Bradbury, actors Christopher Reeve and Linda Hamilton, and astronaut Alan Shepard are all descendants of Mary Bradbury, a woman tried and sentenced in the Salem Witch Trials who escaped death and lived to age 85.

Due to inbreeding amongst the Ptolemies, Cleopatra had only two pairs of great-grandparents. One of those pairs was the son and daughter of the other.


We are averaging-to-brown. Multi racial heroes like Barack Obama Tiger Woods and Lewis Hamilton illustrate a basic truth - men and women are on the move, and having lots of sex on the way. History has always been made in bed but today the beds are a lot closer together. Whole different range of choices - just on your way to work you'll see more people than your great-grandparents met in a lifetime


If you are called Moulay Ismail the Bloodthirsty and you are an 18th century emperor of Morocco, is it really possible to sire 888 children in 30 years? The world needs to know and, thankfully, now it does. Science has provided the answers. And they are: probably, assuming a large enough harem and a relatively modest 1.43 copulations per day.

Modern Families

A fifth of children have attended their own parents’ wedding, according to research that throws fresh light on changing social trends in Britain. The survey also found that more than a third of children are still living with their parents as adults. (London Times 13/4/15)


According to estimates released by the National Retail Federation in September, 157 million Americans "planned to celebrate" Halloween, spending a total of $6.9 billion, of which $2.5 billion would be on costumes, including $350 million dressing up family pets.

Talk about Step Families and Stepmothers

Fay Weldon in The Stepmother's Diary, reckoned stepsons easy to parent because all they wanted was food and clean clothes. Didn't ask you to love them (and preferred that you didn't try), whereas step-daughters are the competition: younger and prettier than you.


Most of Iceland's 320,000 inhabitants are at least distantly related to each other, leading the country to compile the "Book of Icelanders" database of family connections dating back 1,200 years. With "accidental" incest thus a genuine problem, three software engineers recently created a mobile-phone app that allows strangers to "bump" phones with each other and know, instantly, whether they are closely related. In its first few days of release in April, the developers said it had already been used almost 4,000 times.

The Human Family

There is very little difference between races.
As Henry Harpending, the American geneticist, put it, humans are a bit like PCs:
Computers are divisible into major races - Compaq, Dell, Gateway, Micron - as well as many minor populations. These computer races are like human races. Are there deep essential differences? Hardly. Take the cases off and we can barely tell them apart. The components of PCs are commodities that are completely interchangeable. Human race differences are like that.
In other words, the differences between the races are many times greater if we look at the label than if we look inside. That is not to say that there are no genetic differences at all, but that they are small on-average differences. When meeting someone new, it makes sense to judge them on their abilities rather than their label.

Twin Coincidences

Two twins separated at birth. Both were named Jim by their families, married and divorced women named Linda, remarried to women named Betty had sons named James Allan and James Alan, and dogs named Toy.

Surprising number of accidental twin swap then later meet. Two things clear: first, the genetic parents of the 'missing' twin feel no bond. Bonds come from raising the kid, not from genetics. Second, stranger twins feel instant empathy. But this is bc of human trait to prefer similarities, and ID twins are matched on just about everything.

"How To Disappear" by skip-tracer Frank Ahearn: if you really have to keep in touch with someone you've left behind, get a burner phone, then place a TradeMe ad to sell a very specific car. Embed new cell ph no in the text of the ad.


Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, who died yesterday, was the last peer to have inherited his title in the 1920s, observes David Hodgson, a TMS reader. Only three peers have ever been in the job longer than Montagu’s 86 years, while five have survived for less than a week, including Erskine May, the constitution expert, and Frederic Leighton, the Victorian painter. The third Duke of Suffolk died half an hour after inheriting his ermine, while the second Baron Stamp was killed by the same bomb as his father in 1941. Although the order of death could not be determined, he was ruled to have inherited the title ever so briefly, meaning that the family had to pay death duties twice.

Close Families

(the insult "They are PCBC's" - Parents Could Be Cousins)

Traditional Families

In Australia the percentage of nuclear families (ie both parents and children living together) has dropped below 50% for first time, and in New Zealand, the most common group of families with kids is single-child families (41%)

Empty Nesters

Empty nest syndrome is not as widespread as thought, a survey has suggested. More than half of mothers whose children had left home said that they were enjoying the extra freedom. Only 24 per cent admitted to being extremely upset when their children said goodbye, according to the survey of 3,500 women by Cotton Traders, the leisurewear retailer. Some 37 per cent said that their home was now a calmer place, while 7 per cent said that they enjoyed regaining control of the TV remote control and 13 per cent appreciated not having to cook family dinners.

Dysfunctional Families

'Dysfunctional Family' defined as any family with more than one member


A recognised psychosis - "Syngesophobia": fear of relatives - usually m-in-law


A Long Beach Highway patrolman was suspended from duty after giving his m-in-law 48 tickets in 2 months. She claimed he'd wait outside her house and follow her every time she got into her car

Took his wife to see Home Alone 2. Only just started and wife goes "Those bloody parents. How cd they forget him again?" and walked out

Happy Families

(Story in Readers Digest) Fearing my 11 year old daughter would be homesick on her school camp, I asked my entire family to send her letters. My 14 yo son agreed reluctantly, but wrote anyway. When my daughter returned home, she showed me his letter: "Dear Elizabeth, I never knew you had so many interesting things in your bedroom."

Dalai Lama Advice on Families

Problems arising from conjugal life could even lead to suicide or murder, the Dalai Lama warned. Moreover, he added, the "consolation" in choosing a life of celibacy is that, although "something" is missing, one can have a life with "more independence, more freedom". Considered a Buddhist Master exempt from the religion's wheel of death and reincarnation, the Dalai Lama waxed eloquent on the Buddhist credo of non-attachment. "Too much attachment towards your children, towards your partner," was "one of the obstacles or hindrances of peace of mind," he said.

Lighter Conversation Starters about Families

Our parents made us run 2 miles every night - by the end of the week we were 14 miles from home
Swim training was tough - he'd throw us off the end of the pier and make us swim to shore - getting out of the bag was the hard bit
He was a 'belt and braces' father - "Brace yourself" he'd say, then he'd belt you
Took a while, but I eventually developed an attachment for my mother-in-law - it fits over her mouth


Book Extracts on Families

William Flew Client 1 William Flew Client 2 William Flew Client 3 William Flew Client 4 William Flew Client 5