Whether you are attending a formal family reunion or just a casual meal together, gatherings are an excellent opportunity to learn more about both immediate and extended family members. These are great questions you might ask your dad, your great-aunt, or even the spouse of your third cousin, once removed!
A Link to the Past
The chance to sit down and chat with your elders can reveal a lot about your family history and what life was once like.
- Tell me about what it was like growing up in [name of place].
- Did you live in a house or an apartment? Was there electricity and indoor plumbing?
- Where is the family originally from? How far up the family tree can you go?
- Who is the oldest family member you remember, and what do you remember about them?
- What was a typical family dinner like for you?
- As a kid, what did you think you wanted to be when you grew up?
- What stories did your grandma/grandpa used to share about their younger years?
- How much was your allowance, and how did you choose to spend it?
- Do you think life is easier or harder for kids these days compared to your childhood? Why?
- What do you think is the most important life skill or value your parents taught you?
- Have you ever gone back to visit your childhood home? What about where your mom or dad grew up?
- What single invention had the biggest impact on your life?
- Are there any treasured family heirlooms? What's the story behind them and who has them now?
You can learn a lot about someone by asking them about their taste in entertainment and other favorites. These are some of the most fun questions to ask family because you'll likely reveal generational divides that are ripe for friendly debate.
- What kind of music did you enjoy when you were younger? Do you still like it now?
- Do you remember a favorite dish your mom/dad/grandparent used to prepare? Can you make it now?
- What was your favorite TV show growing up? What is it now?
- What was your favorite toy as a child? How did you get it?
- Who was your biggest idol or role model as a teenager?
- Who was your biggest celebrity crush as a teen?
- Where is your favorite all-time vacation spot? How many times have you been there?
- What was your favorite childhood treat? Do you still like it now?
- Is there something from your childhood you wish was still popular today?
- What are your top three all-time favorite movies?
Reminiscing Over Story Time
Everyone has a great story to tell. You just have to ask the right questions to get them talking.
- How did you ever get your nickname? Did you have a nickname growing up that no one calls you anymore?
- Where did you go to school and what was it like? What were your most and least favorite subjects?
- What is your earliest childhood memory? Why do you think it sticks out for you?
- How did you and your friends spend your time after school and on weekends?
- Where was your first job and what did you do? Was it fun? What did you learn?
- What was the most unique or interesting summer job you ever had?
- What's the worst trouble you've ever gotten yourself into? How did you get out of it?
- What is the scariest thing you've ever done?
- How did you react when you found out you were going to become a parent for the first time?
- Were your parents more authoritarian or more lenient? Do you think this affected your parenting style?
Questions of Why
Understanding motivations and decisions made along the way can illuminate incredible insights into the lives of your family members.
- Why did your parents decide to name you [full name]?
- How did you decide on the names for your own children?
- Why did you finally choose to settle down where you did?
- Did you ever dream of living somewhere else?
- What got you to decide on your current career? Did you always think you were going to do this for a living?
- Why did you decide to go or not to go to college/university?
It's a Family Affair
These questions can serve as tremendous conversation starters, offering a glimpse into the past and where your family came from. The next time you ask your aunt to pass the scalloped potatoes, you might also ask what your grandma was like as a mother herself!