If there is anything close to an actual oracle, it’s probably our parents and grandparents. If not Dumbledore, our parents are at least more wise than we are. They’ve seen much more: a few more wars, a few more decades, maybe marriage, maybe divorce, careers, and raising a few kids or so.
So many of us focus on getting out of our parents’ house or simply remembering to call them when we move out that we forget to have real conversations with them. If — or I should say when — we’re confused, tired, annoyed, or disillusioned, we should turn to our parents for support and guidance, if possible. They’re wells of knowledge.
Ask your parents these questions to get to know them, and yourself, a little bit better.
1. How did you know/did you know if you were ready for marriage?
If your parents are still together and/or you’re planning to take a big relationship step yourself, your parents are veritable oracles of knowledge, having been through everything themselves. If your parents aren’t together, it may be helpful to know if there were warning signs or red flags from the very beginning.
Ultimately, the decision to get married is your own, and even your parents’ experience will not be your own, but at the very least, you’ll gain unique and special insight into your parents’ experiences with love and marriage. You’ll know them better.
2. What were your grandparents like?
Bonus points if they show you photos. Old photos are a window into the past, and hearing your parents talk about their grandparents and their parents will let you get to know the people from whence you came. What were their personalities like? Were they suffragettes? Mine workers? Nouveau riche? (Mine were largely sheep herders and farmers in Southern Italy.)
3. What’s our history?
My father is the youngest of 12 children, and had an older sibling whom he never met die in a bombing in the 40s. Hearing these stories from my immigrant father makes history come alive, and makes me realize just how far my family has come, and what my roots are. It gives me chills to think of where I came from.
4. What were your twenties like?
Twenty-something life is fraught with confusion these days, and it may have been the same for your parents. What decisions did they make, and how did they know/did they know at all if these were the right ones? Did they travel? Who were their best friends? Were they protestors? Businesspeople? Hippies?
5. Did your plan turn out at all the way you’d hoped?
We all have plans and life goals, but it was a wise Beatle who said “Life happens when you’re busy making other plans” (you probably have that posted somewhere on your Pinterest, let’s get real). Did your parents’ plans get frustrated? Did they ever feel like nothing would ever be all right? How did they deal?
6. What’s the most important lesson you’ve ever learned?
We’re getting into the heavy stuff here, people. Ask your parents what is the single best piece of advice about life they can give you, and then take it.
7. What do you think I got from you?
Whether it’s physical traits, emotional traits or behavioral traits, we are the products of both our DNA and our upbringing — both things that our parents had almost 100% control over. As much as we think we’re free people and independent thinkers, our parents molded us indelibly. Forge a closer connection by asking your parents what they can take some credit for, and what they’re proud of you for.