How to Have Meaningful Conversations

How to Have a Meaningful Conversation with the Old and the Young

Holidays and vacations often include visiting aging relatives.  Most children (and adults) struggle trying to initiate a conversation with older aunts, uncles and grandparents, especially if they don’t see one another on a regular basis.  The truth is that many of us don’t ask our elders nearly enough about their lives.  A great way to gain a new perspective about our relatives is to formulate a list of questions that can open up communication.  Here’s a list to get you started.  Skip over the questions that don’t interest you and add your own.  Most importantly, have fun and cherish what has been shared with you!

  • In what ways do you think I’m like you? And not like you?
  • Who is the person who influenced your life the most?
  • Which new technology have you found most helpful in your life? Which do you find to be the most annoying?
  • Is there anything you have always wanted to tell me but never have?
  • Is there anything you regret not having asked your parents?
  • Do you wish anything had been different between us, or would you still like to change something?
  • What was the happiest moment of your life?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • How did your experience in the military mold you as a person?  Most veterans, but not all, enjoy sharing their military experiences and are proud of  their achievements.
  • What is your earliest memory?
  • Who were your friends when you were growing up?
  • What was your favorite thing to do for fun (movies, beach, etc.)?
  • What was school like for you as a child? What were your best and worst subjects?  How did you get to school?  Who watched you after school?
  • What school activities and sports did you participate in?
  • Do you remember any fads from your youth? Popular hairstyles? Clothing?
  • What world events had the most impact on you?
  • Who was the first person you kissed?
  • Who was your best childhood friend?  Best high school friend?
  • What was the name/model of your very first car?
  • Where did you go on your honeymoon?

Crossword playing

Playing games together is a great way to bond.

How to Initiate Fun Conversations with the Younger Generation

Children aren’t the only people who struggle with conversation.  Technology is changing so quickly that older people can’t relate to “snap- chat, texting, youtube, and Facebook”.  A great way to have fun with your grandchildren, nieces and nephews is to play “would you rather” games.  Everyone of all ages love this game.  Here are some “would you rather” questions to get you started.

  • Would you rather be a fork or a spoon and why?
  • Would you rather lose all of your money and valuables or all of the pictures you have ever taken?
  • Would you rather be able to see 10 minutes into your own future or 10 minutes into the future of anyone but yourself?
  • Would you rather go to jail for 4 years for something you didn’t do or get away with something horrible you did but always live in fear of being caught?
  • Would you rather your shirts be always two sizes too big or one size too small?
  • Would you rather live in the wilderness far from civilization or live on the streets of a city as a homeless person?
  • Would you rather live your entire life in a virtual reality where all your wishes are granted or in the real world?
  • Would you rather be alone for the rest of your life or always be surrounded by annoying people?
  • Would you rather be completely invisible for one day or be able to fly for one day
  • Would you rather be locked in a room that is constantly dark for a week or a room that is constantly bright for a week?
  • Would you rather have a horrible job, but be able to retire comfortably in 10 years or have your dream job, but have to work until the day you die?
  • Would you rather find your true love or a suitcase with five million dollars inside?
  • Would you rather be transported permanently 500 years into the future or 500 years into the past?
  • Would you rather have hands that kept growing as you got older or feet that kept growing as you got older?
  • Would you rather donate your body to science or donate your organs to people who need them?
  • Would you rather relive the same day for 365 days or lose a year of your life?
  • Would you rather lose your nose or your eye?
  • Would you rather be balding but fit or overweight with a full head of hair?
  • Would you rather never be able to eat meat or never be able to eat vegetables?
  • Would you rather have amazingly fast typing / texting speed or be able to read ridiculously fast?

There are many other ways to have meaningful conversations amongst relatives young and old.  Bring out the old photo albums and study the photos carefully –  Houses in the background may conjure up memories of neighbors; dresses and shoe styles might bring back memories of what was “in” during your younger years; automobiles and other modes of transportation (horses?) can be discussed.  Use your imagination and have fun!

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