Questions to Ask Your Parents During Bonding Time
2020 has become a year of bonding time with loved ones and self-reflection due to unforeseen circumstances. Take advantage of your down time and use it to get to know your parents more. Sure, we may know a lot about our family members, but just because you've lived and loved together for all of your life it doesn't mean there aren't gems about them you haven't discovered yet.
Our parents are full of wisdom and have an expansive library of knowledge that you can inherit. Don't wait until it's too late; spend quality time with them and ask them questions that you've always wanted to ask. Not only will they be excited to share wonderful memories with you, but this fun little "interview" will be a memorable time together as well.
1. What was their childhood like?
Ask them about that golden era of their life: their childhood. It's quite possibly the most rich chapter of our lives when it comes to memories. This is perhaps because our childhood years is when our brains are still developing and we're experiencing things for the first time. Therefore, our memories during childhood are more vivid and when we recal them years later, the memories are wrapped around the emotions we felt at the time. Think about the exhilaration your felt when you first rode your bike without assistance after your dad taught you the basics. Think about having a crush on a girl or boy for the first time. Get your parents to open up about this time in their life and they'll surely tell you story after story.
2. What did they learn from their own parents?
Just as you are learning from your parents and mining their wealth of wisdom, it is safe to say that your parents themselves learned a lot from their own parents. Learning from others isn't always direct. Sometimes we learn from our parents by simply imitating them as children, or watching them lead by example rather them tell you what to do.
3. What was the first life-lesson they learned?
The first truly life-changing lesson we learn is one of the most important things we could ever experience as human beings. That is because it is then we realize that life is one long journey towards self-improvement. The first life lesson is when we take our initial step in our personal evolution timeline. It is likely your mom and dad learned different life lessons at an early age, which may also be completely different from your own life lesson. This could be a fun and thought-provoking discussion.
4. How did they change when you and siblings were born?
Parenthood, they say, is one of the most life-changing things that could ever happen to you. Ask your parents how they changed overnight when they suddenly became parents. What did they feel? Did they have a sudden realization and how did they process it in their mind? This question will remind them how wonderful parenthood is.
5. What were dreams before they had a family?
Ask your parents to be honest about their dreams before they became married and had children. Some parents might not want to admit certain dreams, either because they are embarrassed about their former ambitions, or because they don't want to admit that maybe sometimes they think about what could've been if you and your siblings weren't around. However, encourage them to share and they there is no judgment to be made. Tell them that you love them no matter what and that it's only natural to have microsecond instances of doubts, or even regret, about starting a family. After all, they had a life before you came along, even before their spouse came along. Remind them that this question is meant to cherish and champion their individuality.
6. What did they learn from their grandparents?
Grandparents, arguably, have an even larger library of knowledge and wisdom. Ask your parents what they've learned from their grandparents. Since each generation lived in different eras, which means different values, maybe your parents learned some wisdom that have been lost in your generation. These are the true gems hidden in your family tree.
7. What was their favorite memory as individuals?
Remember, your parents are in a partnership, but they are still two individuals with unique personalities. Ask each one of them their favorite memories that has nothing to do with being parents. Maybe it's a memory from their childhood or college years. Listen to their stories and appreciate them for who they are as individuals.
8. How did your parents meet?
You're here in this world because your parents met. Ask them to detail the beginning of their love story. Hearing their individual perspectives will be a treat.
9. What was your parents' first date?
After meeting for the very first time comes their first date. Ask them to recount their first date and what they thought and felt throughout.
10. What was their favorite memory as parents?
Ask them some of their most vivid memories as parents. Was it a fun family vacation in the past? Perhaps it's a humorous story of their trial and errors when they first became parents to you or your siblings. Take a trip down memory lane with them. You'll gain a new appreciation for your parents.
11. What's their secret to a loving and strong marriage?
They've come a long way since their wedding day. They still love each other and have become stronger as a couple throughout the years. That's an impressive achievement in this day and age of high divorce rates. Ask them how they've managed to maintain a strong and loving marriage. Their wisdom will surely benefit you in your own relationship and marriage.
12. What's their favorite memory of a family vacation?
Family vacations are some of the most memorable moments in a marriage. It is a time for bonding with the children and each other. Family vacations will be remembered throughout your lifetime. Ask them what their favorite moments were. It could be a funny moment that will leave your laughing your socks off whenever you hear the story, or a profound moment of bonding.
13. What advice can they give you?
The most important gift your parents can give you, besides life itself, is their advice to you. Life lessons are learned in two ways: through first-hand experience and through knowledge passed down to you from parents like a sacred heirloom. Tell them to be honest and not to just think of something "deep" because they feel obliged to do so. It could be something practical rather than philosophical. Those are the best types of advice anyway.
14. How long did it take to settle in into parenthood?
Transitioning from singlehood to being married is a big leap. Having kids all of a sudden is an even bigger one. Ask them how they made that major shift in their lives. Their advice could be useful to your own journey into parenthood.
15. How did they learn to juggle finances when you and your siblings were born?
Another major factor in parenthood that is not talked about because it doesn't seem poetic or sentimental is financial management. However, it is one of the most important elements of parenthood, especially when your parents are still early in their respective careers. In today's volatile global economy, learning how to manage finances when young children come into the picture is essential.
16. Where would they like to visit when they retire?
Perhaps it's a dream vacation they've planned for years, or maybe it's a place they planned to go when they were still a childless couple but had to cancel because of unforseen pregnancy. Ask them what their dream destination is. This will give you an idea of what to gift them they retire.
17. What's the most romantic thing they did for each other?
Romance is an essential component that keeps a marriage going, among other factors like honesty and trust. How did your father woo her? What was a sweet thing your mother did for your dad? Ask them to tell you their love story.
18. Did they achieve their ultimate goal as parents now that you're grown?
Now that you and your siblings are grown, ask your parents if they achieved the goal they set when they were still new to parenthood. Perhaps their goal was simply to take care of you until you were old enough to survive on your own, or to make sure you graduate college. Most parents will probably say that they simply wanted to raise a loving decent human being.
19. What's their song?
If you didn't already know their "couple song," now is the time to ask them. That way, when their wedding anniversary comes around the corner, you'll know what song(s) to play at the party.
20. Have they written their will?
This is may be a tough subject to talk to with your parents, or even think about, but it's one of the most important things one can do post-retirement. Not having a plan in place for the end can lead to thousands of dollars of expenses that would burden the surviving family members. Taking care of their accounts, property and bills can also become a massive headache. Make sure your parents a prepared. Gently remind or ask them about their will and estate plans. Perhaps they even want to customize their own online memorial while their still alive, so that they can control their own legacy's narrative when they pass away.