Conversation Starters: 20 Questions to Ask Your Parents


Our parents are the most familiar people in the world, but sometimes they can be the most mysterious as well. Many adult children care for their parents every day, but how well do they really know one another? Who is Mom as a person? What was Dad like when he was growing up? What experiences most impacted their lives? What were their hopes, dreams and regrets?

As adults, it is easy to assume that we know everything about our parents and have already heard all their stories. The truth is that many of us don't ask our elders nearly enough about their lives. There's no better way to become closer to a person, even if you've known them since you were born. has gathered a list of questions that our elder care experts and editors would most like to ask their own parents. Open up the conversation and see where it takes you. In the process, you might gain a new perspective on your parents and learn something about yourself.

Interview Questions for Elders

  1. In what ways do you think I'm like you? And not like you?
  2. Who is the person who influenced your life the most?
  3. Do you have a lost love?
  4. Which new technology have you found most helpful in your life? Which do you find to be the most annoying?
  5. Is there anything you have always wanted to tell me but never have?
  6. Is there anything you regret not having asked your parents?
  7. Do you wish anything had been different between us, or would you still like to change something?
  8. What was the happiest moment of your life?
  9. What are you most proud of?
  10. How did your experience in the military mold you as a person?
  11. What are the most important lessons you've learned in life?
  12. What is your earliest memory?
  13. Did you receive an allowance as a child? How much? Did you save your money or spend it?
  14. Who were your friends when you were growing up?
  15. What was your favorite thing to do for fun (movies, beach, etc.)?
  16. What was school like for you as a child? What were your best and worst subjects?
  17. What school activities and sports did you participate in?
  18. Do you remember any fads from your youth? Popular hairstyles? Clothing?
  19. What world events had the most impact on you?
  20. How would you like to be remembered?
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I am feeling so sorry that I did not connect with my dad when he was alive. I have just found out in the last 2 years that his tour of duty during WW2 was so tramatic for him. He fought with the 36th division and saw so many of his army buddies killed. He never spoke of this to anyone in our family. How I would love to talk to him about his dreams, his thoughts, and thank him for being such a hard worker.
To Give a Hug - You are missing the point. Although we spent the first 20 years or so living with our parents, in most cases we really do not know that much about them as a person. Our parents were busy being parents not friends so we were not the ones with whom they shared this information. I believe it is really important to know who are parents are as individuals. What unusual experiences shaped their lives? What dreams did they have as young adults? Did they fullfill those dreams or do they have regrets? This is an opportunity to really know the people who raised us and it is a real opportunity for our parents to leave their children and grandchildren a legacy of a life lived, challenges faced, dreams fullfilled, and wisdom gathered. Fantastic article.
I not only asked many of these questions, I also recorded my Mother's answers so I now have not only a better insight as to who she was but her voice telling me. She was in her mid 80's and thrilled that I cared to know more about her. I only wish we'd started to do this earlier as it was a bonding activity.