30 Questions Everyone Should Ask Their Grandparents

You’d be surprised at how rich your grandparents’ lives have been, and how much they have to teach you. Ask them these questions now or regret it later on, if you miss the opportunity.

How do you make your famous family recipe?

A small girl with grandmother cooking at home.Halfpoint/Shutterstock

Your grandfather’s chili may have routinely made your Sundays special when you were little, but do you know what seasonings gave it that distinctive flair? “Have your grandparents document traditional family recipes, whether written or orally, so there is always a way to remember them and pass them down for generations,” says Julie Gurner, Ph.D., a doctor of clinical psychology, who lost a grandparent a few years ago.

“My Italian grandmother was known for her dishes that she just seemed to know by heart but were not written down, ” Gurner shares. “One Christmas, I asked her to write down her recipes, and it was one of the best things I have ever done. She finally had to measure out all of those ‘pinches’ of ingredients, and I now have a way of replicating my grandmother’s wonderful cooking that brings back memories of family dinners at her home,” she explains. Get started with these 20 recipes like grandma used to make.

What was your childhood like?

Grandfather And Granddaughter Reading Book At Home TogetherMonkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Maybe they really did walk to school one mile in the snow or struggled with spelling, just like you. Asking your grandparents about their day-to-day life as children will help you understand them better and teach you about the era they grew up in. “These conversations will help you learn more about your grandparents and their background, but even more so, will give you a chance to really connect with them before they are gone,” adds Heidi McBain, MA, LMFT, LPC, RPT, author of Life Transitions: Personal Stories of Hope Through Life’s Most Difficult Challenges and Changes.


What is your medical and genetic history?

Stethoscope with clock on booksbeerkoff/Shutterstock

Everyone’s family tree holds a few genetic surprises. “Ask your grandparents what health conditions seemed to crop up often in the family,” suggests Eileen Roth, an organizational expert of Jewish and European descent. Finding out about her family’s geographic origins helped her determine the types of genetic tests she should take, to safeguard her health and the health of her descendants. Filling out the details of your family’s medical history can help you be aware of what specific conditions you and your own children should be on the lookout for. Find out the 12 things your mother’s health says about you.

How did you meet the love of your life?

A couple sleeping in

Maybe they had an ill-fated love affair, Titanic-style, or maybe they married their one true love and started your wonderful family as a result. “Ask your grandparent how they met their spouse. They probably did some very interesting things together, plus, the whole courting process was so different, back in the day,” says Cheryl Smith, owner of Consider It Done Transition Services. “I spend a lot of time with elders as they sort through their years of belongings and am blessed to hear a lot of stories. I often find that families don’t know these stories, and they are so poignant to listen to,” she adds. You would be a fool not to follow these 28 marriages tips from grandmas.

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