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This week I read the book 300 Questions to Ask Your Parents....Before It's Too Late by Shannon Adler. While the introduction to the book was rather gripping, once I got into the questions I was puzzled.
First, too many questions seemed to be posed by a stranger. For example, did you go to college and if so, where? I realize that our society has become more introverted these days; ipods, video games, phones with movies -- we escape to our own world and retreat from one another. But really, an adult child not knowing if a parent went to college strikes me as too distant.
Second, far too many questions are designed to be asked of a well educated stable parent. I know, first hand, that parents are often not educated beyond high school (mine for example) and shoulder a lot of emotional baggage. For families where the parents have Masters degrees and are emotionally sound, this book might be useful. For others the questions may result in the equivalent of stepping on a land mine of repressed feelings.
Third, the book lists questions with room to write notes. However, it is a standard book, not a notebook. Writing notes seems difficult. I also wonder if a different medium, such as video or voice recording might make the exercise more fulfilling. A lot is conveyed through body language and tone!
And fourth, what do you do when you are done with the questions? Addler does not offer any clear way on how to use this information. I think she is on to something important, but it seems too limited and narrow for most people to benefit.
One question did make me wonder, what was your marriage proposal like? My father died in 2009, and my mother is still with us, but she is in poor health. It makes me wonder, how did my dad propose? It is something I do not know. And knowing might allow me to have a more complete picture of the grandfather I describe to my young children, a man they will only know through my stories. So, before it is too late, I plan to ask my mom. It will need to be delicate; memories of my dad and his death sadden her. Again, that is the key point missing from this book....how to ask without bringing about hurt.
What about you -- what would you ask your parents, before it is too late? Please post a comment and share.