Good Questions to ask Grandparents

Good questions to ask grandparents

Grandparents are an often overlooked resource for information and wisdom, and their stories can be as entertaining as television sitcoms or You Tube features.  Grandchildren are the perfect audience for tales from the past, so arming your children with some provocative questions to ask the senior members of the family will encourage communication and build bonds of love and respect to pass along to future generations.  Often school assignments tap into the grandparent resource, so encouraging older children to write down some of the stories or even to film their conversations may prove to be helpful on future projects.  At the very least word of mouth family stories create warm ties that link us with the past and the future. 

Here are some ideas for questions to ask a grandparent.

1.)    Who were you parents and grandparents, and where were they from?

2.)    What is your earliest memory?

3.)     Who were the members of your immediate family?

4.)    Did you move around while you were growing up?

5.)    Did both of your parents work?  What did they do?

6.)    What traditions did your family have?

7.)    What is the naughtiest thing you ever did, and what were the consequences?

8.)    Who was President when you were born?  When you first voted?

9.)    Did you ever see anyone famous while you were growing up?

10.) What was your favorite food when you were a child?

11.) Did you ever experience a bad storm?  What is the worst weather you remember from your childhood?

12.) What kind of music did you like?  Who was your favorite musical artist?

13.) What sports did you play?

14.) What was your first job?  How much did you earn?

15.) What was your favorite toy?

16.) What childhood illnesses did you experience?

17.) Were there other kids in your neighborhood to play with?  What games did you play?

18.) What was your favorite subject in school? 

19.) Who was your favorite teacher?

20.) What did you dream of becoming when you grew up?

21.) What was your first car?

22.) What historic events do you remember?

23.) Did you or someone in your family serve in the military?

24.) How did you meet your wife or husband?

25.) What do you remember about my parent’s (mom or dad) birth?

This list is only a beginning.  Each family will have many additions, as well as subtractions, to create a personal list of things they would like to know about their family history.  Grandparents themselves may elaborate on questions and provide extensive answers on some topics. 

Allow plenty of time for the process. Grandparents need time to think through their answers and tell the stories.   It is a good idea to cover only a few questions ( 3-4) at a time.  Remember to ask to see pictures and documents if they are available.  Enjoy the process of listening and learning from the past with your children.    It may become a family tradition.