Mother Knows Best, But Do You Really Know Her? Ancestry Survey Reveals Americans Know Little About Moms' Past–and She Wants to Tell You

Ancestry® Survey Uncovers 4 in 5 Moms Want to Share Stories About Their Past, But Majority Say They’re Not Being Asked

Ancestry survey reveals Americans know little about moms' past–and she wants to tell you (Graphic: Ancestry)

LEHI, Utah--()--Ancestry®, the leader in family history, released survey findings today that revealed Americans have a blind spot about what their parents’ lives were like before parenthood. In fact, only 37% are familiar with their mother’s life before having them – yet, an overwhelming majority of moms (79%) are willing to share their stories.

Despite this lack of generational storytelling, most Americans (79%) want to know more about their parents’ lives before them, but their kids haven’t asked because they think parents don’t want to share (23%) or they simply haven’t thought to ask (22%). However, parents have fantastic stories to tell – especially since 74% of moms believe they’re cooler than their kids think. Now, with new Ancestry tools that spark meaningful generational conversations and provide a way to preserve mom’s memories, everyone has the power of storytelling at their fingertips.

“Storytelling is our obligation to the next generation,” said Crista Cowan, Corporate Genealogist at Ancestry. “Records, family trees and DNA are the foundation of family history research, showing us snapshots of our ancestors’ lives and relationships between people – and Ancestry’s newest storytelling tools also allow us to share even more detail about what makes each of us, us. By adding photos and audio recordings of our family stories, memories and legacies can be preserved forever for generations to come.”

Ancestry is encouraging everyone to learn more about who mom was before them, and to discover and preserve her untold stories using its new innovative features:

  • Storymaker Studio: A new feature in the Ancestry app that easily allows users to create bite-sized stories from their family history and share them within the Ancestry community and on their personal social media channels. Now with Storymaker Studio it’s easier than ever to turn those stories, combined with personal family memories and heirlooms, into engaging, shareable content. Users can also record or upload audio of themselves and others telling family stories–in their voices–to share with family and preserve for future generations.
  • DNA compare: People can now see a side by side comparison of their ethnicities and communities with DNA matches, as well as non-matches who have shared their AncestryDNA® results with them.

When it comes to what Americans want to learn about their parents, they’re most interested in pre-parenthood adventures (52%), romantic relationships (48%) and rebellious phases (45%). Some respondents were surprised to learn things like a parent was born on a boat from Italy, faked their own death, hitchhiked across the country, composed music, performed magic, received top medals during WWII, and more.

Starting May 1, everyone can also give a gift moms will cherish long after Mother’s Day. Begin unlocking even more family stories with deals on AncestryDNA, on sale for $59 (originally $99); AncestryDNA + Traits, on sale for $69 (originally $119); and Ancestry Gift Memberships, up to 30% off.

Survey Findings

In a comprehensive look at America's knowledge of their parents’ lives before parenthood, a new OnePoll survey1 commissioned by Ancestry revealed the following additional information:

  • We Know Little About Our Mom’s Life Before Kids, Yet She’s Vital to Our Upbringing
    • Less than half of Americans (37%) are familiar with their mom’s family history/past.
    • Yet most Americans (83%) say their mom raised them the most growing up, and the majority of respondents say they feel closest to their mom out of any relative (36%), compared to dad (29%).
  • There’s a Lot We Don’t Know About Our Parents
    • When it comes to the details of our parents’ lives before they had kids, only few Americans know about what music they listened to (19%), what they struggled with growing up (14%) and what they wanted to be when they grew up (13%).
    • As adult children, more than half of Americans wish they knew more about their parents’ happiest moments (57%) and most valuable life lesson learned (53%).
    • Most parents in America (79%) think they’re cooler than their children think they are, especially Millennial parents (85%).
  • Parents Want Their Memories to Live On
    • Parents in the U.S. want to share more about their lives before having a family because they want to keep their memories alive (70%) and pass on their experiences (68%).
    • When it comes to the next generation, parents want their kids to pass on pieces of their life story, especially their happiest moment (59%), most valuable life lesson (56%) and biggest accomplishment (55%).

Ancestry invites everyone to learn more about who their parents were before them and preserve their stories for future generations. Storymaker Studio is currently free with the Ancestry mobile app. Learn more at, and share your story on Ancestry and social media using #MyAncestryStory.

About Ancestry

Ancestry®, the global leader in family history, empowers journeys of personal discovery to enrich lives. With our unparalleled collection of more than 40 billion records, over 3 million subscribers and over 23 million people in our growing DNA network, customers can discover their family story and gain a new level of understanding about their lives. Over the past 40 years, we’ve built trusted relationships with millions of people who have chosen us as the platform for discovering, preserving and sharing the most important information about themselves and their families.

1 Research Methodology: All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from a OnePoll survey on behalf of Ancestry. Total sample size was 2,000 US adults evenly split between millennials, Gen X and baby boomers. Fieldwork was undertaken between April 12 - 17, 2023. The survey was carried out online.


Dana Chinnici


Dana Chinnici