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?
- What stores or restaurants are key in the “recipe” for your family? My family members frequent Target, Home Depot, Chick-fil-A, and Kohl’s. My husband’s family loves a little restaurant called Mario’s, but their childhood was dotted with trips to El Chico. His mom loved Marshall’s and Ross.
- What are dishes that your whole family generally enjoys? My husband’s family will always enjoy his Grammy’s clam dip, and chips and salsa. My family loves party mix [Chex mix], and most nights playing cards have chips and a variety of salsas brought by my “pretty-much-adopted” sister, who works at a Mexican restaurant.
- How might each of your parents finish this sentence? “The top things kids need to learn are ____, ____, and ____.”
- What family members might not participate in certain activities? For example, I admit to not really loving board and card games, so I only play them every once in awhile. My mom was typically the one to take us on picnics, but usually it was during the week when my dad was working. My dad was the one who wrestled with us on the floor (not my mom). Some families may have participation influenced by religious beliefs, or by gender roles [e.g. while the women shop, the men golf].
- Explore your family’s understanding of gender roles. How would they describe a woman worthy of respect? How would they describe a man worthy of respect?
- What methods of discipline did your parents (or do you, as parents) employ, and for which types of offenses? Would you describe their parenting style as permissive, authoritative, uninvolved, or authoritarian?
- How might your family’s sense of morality differ from other families you know? Might it be more conservative or more liberal? What did your family use to define what was moral?
- In what are members of your family individually gifted? How did this influence your family? My father is highly mechanically gifted, which means that our car was never in a shop outside his garage, and he uses it to help non-profit workers and single mothers, fixing about 100 cars a year. My extended family vocally harmonizes better than any I’ve heard, which means our gatherings almost always have singing. And my husband’s sister was a nationally recognized soccer player, which influenced family after-school time and scholarship opportunities.
- What does your family do for entertainment? What entertainment would they not enjoy?
- What events would your family rarely miss? (Do they attend every religious service? Watch every game of a certain sports team, or watch all the gymnastics of the Olympics? Do they own season passes to the symphony?)
- What types of play did you and your siblings engage in as children? My husband loved sports and riding around town on bikes with friends. My sisters and I did a lot of role-playing games.
- In what ways did your parents play with you? What “kid” activities did you do together, if any?