Learning more about your family's past is fun for history's sake. But these stories can also offer useful insight into what the future might hold. (Think health issues, relationship problems, etc.). That's why — if you can — I highly recommend asking your parents a few questions about their lives.
If you don't know the story of how they met, for example, or what types of health issues they've encountered, then get on that ASAP. These are stories and bits of info you'll want to tuck away for posterity. But they can also be incredibly eye-opening for current you. If your parents can reveal some health info, it might help explain the issues you've dealt with thus far in life. Not to mention, heart-to-heart moments like these offer the perfect opportunity to pick their brains for parental advice.
"Parents are a great resource for information because they have lived longer, had more experiences than you, and hopefully wisdom to boot," psychic and spiritual counselor Davida Rappaport tells Bustle. By simply sitting down for an hour and looking through old photographs, or asking them to tell a few stories, you'll come away with a better understanding of your life — and hopefully life in general. If you haven't already done so, here are some questions you might want to ask, while you still can.
1. Their Health History
The more you can know about what to expect as you get older, the better. "A mother can tell her daughter about menopause and what it looks like in their family," therapist Rajani Venkatraman Levis, MFT, PPS, CTS tells Bustle. "You can read every book there is on these topics, and yet, your experience may, in reality, end up much closer to that of your parents. So don't give up on this important source of information."
2. All Those Family Mysteries
This can be a touchy subject, especially if there's been drama in your family. But if you're wondering about a long-lost aunt or why your family doesn't have reunions anymore, go ahead and ask. "The mysteries within each family hold important information for our healing and wholeness," Levis says. "The ones who left, the ones who died early, the ones who were cut off, the ones who disappeared — they often hold a very important missing piece of the puzzle of our lives."
3. The Story Of Your Birth
This can be a fun — and incredibly sweet — story to hear. But it can also offer some insight into your future and your health. "Try to ask your mother what it was like giving birth to you (and/or your siblings) so you know a bit more about what she went through to bring you into the world physically and emotionally," says Rappaport. "If you are female, this will help you so you will have an idea of what you may experience." If you'd like to have kids.
4. Who's Who In Your Family Tree
The next time you're digging through old dusty photographs, ask your parents to identify everyone. "As you get older, whether you are aware of it or not, you will want to know where you came from, who you were related to, and what they were like," Rappaport says. "You'll also want to know about your parents friends because they can give insight into a side of your parents that you may not know."
5. How Your Parents Met
If you don't already know, I promise this will be an incredibly interesting to story to hear. "What was it that brought them together, and if they are still together, what are they doing to make their love grow and flourish, even in difficult times," Rappaport asks. "If your parents are not together, ask them what made them separate — the real reason. This way you can learn from their mistakes as well as their successes."
6. What The World Was Like
From a purely historical standpoint, it can be fun to learn about the world your parents grew up in. But it can offer insight into their personalities, too. "If you know what struggles and accomplishments they experienced, this will give you a better understanding of how they became the person they are now," Rappaport says. "Knowing this, you may discover they had similar experiences to yours; this can also bring you closer together."
7. All Those Great Recipes
If you grew up with family members who really did it up in the kitchen, then you'll definitely want to learn how to recreate those recipes for yourself. "Much joy is shared in families over food," Levis says. "Make sure you gather those family recipes as the treasures that they are." And then pass them on to your kids, if you have them.
8. What They're Planning To Do With Their Things
While not a fun conversation, by any stretch of the imagination, asking your parents about their estate is super important. "Ask them now while they're healthy to organize their eternal wishes in writing or, perhaps hopefully, asking them how these documents are to be carried out," relationship expert Brett Graff, of The Home Economist, tells Bustle. You'll be glad you did.
9. What They Hope To Accomplish In Life
Your parents have always been fully grown in your eyes, but remember they were once young and starry-eyed, too. So go ahead and ask them, "What did you want to be when you grew up?" As Rappaport says, "It is important to know why they made the choices they made." Knowing how they got where they are today, and what they didn't get to do, can be eye-opening.
10. Get Info On Those Family Heirlooms
Every family seems to have one weird thing on the mantle that's a hundred years old. But do you know anything about it? "If there are any family heirlooms, you would want to ask your parents about their history — how they were acquired and the sentiments attached to them," Rappaport says. Nothin' like a family story, right?
11. Ask About Their Regrets, If They Have Any
Most people gather up regrets as they go through life, so ask your parents what they may have messed up and how they might have done things differently. "It helps you put things together — what worked or didn’t so you can avoid making bad decisions whenever you encounter problems in your own life," Rappaport says.
Because that's really the beauty of all these questions. Not only will you get to know more about your parents, but you'll hopefully learn a little somethin' about yourself, too.
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