After living with your parents for 18 years (or more), you probably think you know them inside and out.
But do you really know your parents?
Even as you grow older and begin to build a friendship with them, conversations often focus solely on you, the child. And while you might remember to ask your parents what they've been up to this week, it's easy to forget to ask them about personal stories from their youth.
Don't wait until it's too late. Your parents had awesome lives before you came along (and yes, even more awesome lives after), so it's about time you learned about them.
Play "20 Questions" with your parents using these examples:
1. What was the neighborhood like where you grew up?
Sure, you've probably seen the neighborhood yourself while visiting a grandparent, but your parents will undoubtedly offer a different perspective, and maybe even a history lesson.
2. Did you have a favorite pet, and what made him or her special?
Asking your parent about their favorite furry friend is a great way to connect without forcing them to talk too deeply about themselves. You can relate to each other through similar pet-centered memories, which will hopefully lead to more in-depth questions.
3. Which of your parents’ rules drove you crazy?
Don't be surprised if their answer to this question sounds a lot like your own...
4. Who was your favorite musical artist, and what was your favorite genre?
Don't just take your parent's word for it. Listen to a few of their favorite songs with them. Who knows? Their favorite band or artist could become one of yours, too!
5. How did you feel while taking your driver’s license test?
While you may have learned about your parent's experience when they taught you to drive, they probably downplayed their nervousness before their license test so you wouldn't freak out before yours. Now you can get the real scoop.
6. Did you play a sport, and what did you like about it?
Was it the thrill of competition, the sweet smell of victory, or even the character-building of defeat? You won't know until you ask...
7. How did you spend your free time before you had kids?
It might have been a long time ago, but don't worry, they still remember.
8. What was your favorite subject in school, and why?
Though you may think you know this answer based on your parent's career, they can always surprise you. But if you do already know the answer, ask them a more specific question about a favorite teacher or assignment.
9. What’s something you did that you didn’t tell your parents about?
And don't leave out a single, mischeivous detail.
10. Did you ever win an award you were proud of, and what was it for?
Your parents cheered you on at every spelling bee, track meet, and dance recital. They displayed your awards everywhere from the kitchen fridge to the mantle. Now, it's your turn to honor them.
11. What’s your favorite motto, quotation, or saying? When did you first hear it and what made it resonate with you?
It might be something silly or profound, but either way, you'll gain a better understanding of your parent's personal philosophy.
12. Where is the most interesting place you’ve travelled, and why?
Whether it's the Jersey Shore or Italy, your parent's favorite travel destination, and the stories from it, can shed light on unexpected aspects of their personality.
13. How old were you when you had your first drink? Where were you, and what was it?
This is a casual way to find out if your parent was a party animal without directly asking them (and accidentally learning too much).
14. What’s your favorite memory of your parents?
Even if you're lucky enough to know your grandparents, well, you still don't know them like your parents know them. This question is a double whammy because you'll receive greater insight into not just one, but two generations.
15. When you had a crush on someone, how did you get their attention?
Pre-texting dating tips? Yes please.
16. Who were your best childhood friends, and what were they like?
Asking about your parent's childhood friends isn't just a great way to learn more about them; it also gives your parents an opportunity to stroll down memory lane, and remember relationships that helped form their identity.
17. What’s the craziest or most impulsive thing you’ve ever done?
Whether it was a spontaneous trip or an impromptu party, their story is sure to up your parent's secret "cool factor."
18. Who are the people you most admire, and why?
By asking your parents who they admire, you're learning something about the personal qualities they value. Even better, you might start to see those qualities in your parents, which can help you gain a greater appreciation for them.
19. What's an important life lesson you had to learn the hard way?
Your parents aren't just older than you — they're wiser too. They have a wealth of hard-won knowledge they're just waiting to share with you. Don't wait until you need it. Ask them about their life lessons now, so you can remember their words when it's time to make an important decision.
20. What haven't you done that you still want to accomplish?
While it's important to learn about your parent's past, you should also ask them about their future. It may seem like they've seen and done it all, but their personal party hasn't ended. Perhaps your parent wants to pursue a new passion or rekindle a favorite pasttime, and maybe you can even help!
Ask your parents these questions and you won't just be surprised by their answers. You might also be surprised by what you have in common, and how much closer you've become.