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20 Questions to help your kid understand their family history

Julie Sprankles is a freelance writer living in the storied city of Charleston, SC. When she isn't slinging sass for SheKnows, she enjoys watching campy SyFy creature features (Pirahnaconda, anyone?), trolling the internet for dance work...

Kid reporter: Why your kids should interview older relatives

Your kids may not realize it now, but they're sitting on a goldmine of information — a virtual treasure trove of love and life secrets. Yes, we're talking about older relatives. But how do you get your kid interested in family history?

After all, kids these days have myriad forms of entertainment right at their fingertips. Motivating them to spend an afternoon chatting with their grandpa might not rank very high on their to-do list, despite the fact you've told them a hundred times that one day they'll wish they had spent more time getting to know their older relatives.

What I wouldn't give for one more afternoon spent in my Grandma Hazel's kitchen, watching her cook cornbread in the skillet and listening to stories about my Papa. But hindsight is 20/20, right?

Which is why, naturally, your kids need your help now — whether they grasp that notion yet or not. First things first, you're going to need to invest in a digital recorder or a cell phone. Assuming the model was released in the last decade, it should have a record feature built in.

If your kids are reticent to simply interview older relatives (which will be the case for many kids), you'll need to get creative.

One way to get the ball rolling is to turn it into an assignment. Or, if your child has already been tasked at some point by a teacher with interviewing a family member, have them expound upon that assignment. Teachers often hand out family tree assignments when kids are young, so your child likely won't think this type of homework to be off-the-wall. When you present it as an assignment, your child will be prone to following through.

To get you off on the right foot, here are 20 questions for a family interview.

  1. When and where were you born, and where did you grow up?
  2. Did you have any pets?
  3. What were your parents' and siblings' names?
  4. What did your parents do for a living?
  5. Did you have chores?
  6. What were your favorite hobbies when you were a kid?
  7. Was there one toy in particular that you loved the most?
  8. What is your happiest childhood memory?
  9. What was your favorite subject in school?
  10. Who were your best friends?
  11. Did you have any special talents?
  12. What did you want to be when you grew up?
  13. How did you meet Grandma/Aunt/etc.?
  14. What were your grandparents like?
  15. Do you have any old pictures you could show me?
  16. What is the key to a happy marriage?
  17. Do you have a treasured family recipe you can share?
  18. What is your favorite family tradition?
  19. What has been your proudest moment?
  20. What do you want people to remember about you?

Happy interviewing!

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