questions to understand subculture

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 ideas behind this serieshere for the second installment, and here for the third.

37. What were essential items at any family celebrations? What would not have been at a family celebration (i.e. alcohol, dancing, anyone other than family, etc.). On what occasions did your family gather, and how did they celebrate? Who was the person who coordinated family celebrations?

38. If you were to describe your family in five adjectives, what would they be?

39. What do you know about your ancestors? (And yes, this applies to adoptees. Consider what you know of both your biological and adoptive families.) Are there any stories that are told that define their memory?

40. With which member of your nuclear family are you closest? Why? What about your extended family?

41. What activities were most important to your family?

42. What topics does your family avoid talking about?

43. What is the most meaningful gift you remember receiving from a family member? What did it communicate to you? Were there any gifts that didn’t make you feel understood? What meaningful gift do you remember giving, or being most excited about?

44. What stories from your family’s timeline would be key for someone were trying to understand your family? This one is hard, and may take some time to think about. Think about major events–those that changed things for your family–and stories that communicate those events’ gravity, or people’s responses. Start with the memories bubble to the surface of your mind from that time period; your brain may have “saved” them because they communicated something specific to you.

45. Describe how your family handled conflict. Who typically fought with whom? Over what? How did different members of your family typically approach conflicts? Did they escape/deny or attack/blame (remember that “attacking” doesn’t have to be physical; even the silent treatment is visiting a consequence on someone)? Check out another incredibly helpful graphic from Peacemakers, one of my favorite organizations, for help on this–and on conflict in general:

slippery slope

46. What “labels”, unhelpful as they might be, could be applied to different members of your family? Stereotypes are incredibly limited in their ability to truly understand people, but they do help us see how people are categorized, and the roles from which they may have trouble breaking free. Remember: No one is completely a certain way 100% of the time! You might even use this as an opportunity to repent from ways you’ve pigeonholed family members,  kept them locked in certain patterns (have you ever noticed that even as adult children, family has a remarkable capacity to return us to particular roles, even those we thought we’d long since overcome?), or seen them as people without capacity to change because of Jesus. In my family, I have a reputation for saying “sorry” too often (I’m sure I’ll post about it someday–it’s well deserved!). But I might be the most likely to be apologetic.

47. Who in your family is most likely to be made fun of? Who is least likely?

48. What routines do family members uphold? Who is strictest with their routine, and whose is the loosest?

What’s a memory of your family which you cherish? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below!

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