Author’s note to newcomers: Our family of origin—or the culture in our own homes—has a considerable impact on our work, our rest, the lens through which we interpret relationships, our kids, our conversation, our spirituality, even our sex life (betcha didn’t think you’d find them in there!).
Plus, I just think it’s plain interesting to understand where we came from—as someone who lives in a different culture that’s helped me better understand my own. It’s helped me be more gracious, more wise, more self-knowledgeable (which helps me be more aware in my relationship with God), and hopefully more holy.
Remember when using these to imagine tacking on the end of every question, Why? and How did this affect you and/or your family?
If you missed the first post, see here for the first questions and ideas behind this series!
- Did your parents come from similar economic backgrounds? Has your family always been of their current economic class? If not, what was the catalyst for change? How are things different now, and how did your parents respond to the change in circumstances? What are the best money-handling skills you learned from your family?
- How do the individual members of your family generally respond to money? Pastor and author Tim Keller has noted that money is a tool: It is used for certain purposes that we see as fulfilling, e.g. security, power, comfort, approval. How does your family members’ handling of money express their individual personalities, experiences (positive or negative), or the power dynamic in your family? Is money used in any particularly healthy or unhealthy ways?
- In five words, how would you describe your parents’ marriage? What stories or regular interactions have shed light on the nature of their marriage? At what point in your life did you become more aware of their relational dynamic? Are there significant events in your family’s timeline that you suspect (or know) impacted their relationship? Is there an aspect of their marriage you hope to have in your own marriage?
16. If your parents are divorced, how would you describe their divorce—and what were the surrounding causes? At what ages were you and your siblings? How were you and your siblings each uniquely altered by this event? How do your parents currently respond to one another? If they have remarried, describe the relationship in their new marriage (see question 15). How does the stepparent respond to you and your siblings?
17. Are there members of your family with especially strong or strained relationships with one another? What are some of the main events the contributed to this closeness or distance? What in their personalities have contributed to this unique dynamic?
18. How did your parents express affection to one another (if they did)? To children? Were there methods of affection that were “off limits” or untouched?How did children express affection to each other, and to parents? What are ways you distinctly remember receiving love from your parents–and what was the most meaningful?
19. Of the five “love languages” of physical affection, words of affirmation, acts of service, gift giving, and quality time, which are your father’s? Your mother’s? Your own? Your siblings? How do you know this?
20. Were there any emotions in your family that were (overtly or covertly) taboo? Why do you think this is? How did your family deal with anger? Sadness? Fear? What did your family do well in processing emotion?
21. What would you never see a member of your family doing? (Feel free to have a little fun with this one! Examples: drinking alcohol; sitting idly; speaking quietly; asking for help; playing a musical instrument; cracking a joke; buying junk food, or buying organic; wearing spandex; helping a person of a certain gender, class, or race; playing a sport…etc.)
22. What activities does almost your entire family enjoy? For example, my husband’s family loves soccer, Mexican food, dogs, and card games, and most enjoy movies.
23. What countries play into your family’s genealogy? Other than on paper, how does this show up? How has your race affected your family? Half of my family, for instance, are of German/Swiss ancestry. I believe I see this in an overtly dedicated, meticulous work ethic. Farming also goes back generations on that side, which creates a value for the life cycle, physical labor, and a level of simplicity in living. I would also venture to say that, because I am white, I have been the usually unknowing beneficiary of what some call “white privilege”—even here in Africa. My grandparents were the second generation in America, and both sets endured or were at the tail end of the Great Depression, so I believe they had a lot of that frugality and delightfully scrappy self-reliance.
24. What was your parents’ education level? If they graduated, from where did they graduate? How did this affect your family, and also their views toward education; certain schools, types of schools, or teams; and intellectual achievement? Of public school, private school, and homeschooling, would there have been a spoken or unspoken preference (or even a hierarchy or taboo)? What skills do you remember your parents teaching you?
Some of these questions might be uncovering some uncomfortable stuff–but it’s my hope that these also uncover sources of gratitude, and things your family did well! What do you love about your family?