Love, Always

Five meaningful questions to ask your father… before it’s too late.

When Michael McQueen was 22 years old, his father suffered an unexpected heart attack and died.

In the throes of his grief, Michael realized: “There’s so much I don’t know about my father because he never told me — and I never thought to ask. Now it’s too late.”

Michael went on to develop a website, Histography, where he provides tools to help people capture their parents’ stories and wisdom to pass along to the next generation.

Through his work, Michael identified five questions that most grown up kids regret not asking their parents back when they could.

1. What is your greatest regret?
2. What were your hopes and dreams as a child?
3. What would you like to see change in the world over the next ten years?
4. What was the most rebellious thing you did as a young person?
5. What can you remember about your first kiss?

This Father’s Day, why not sit down with your father and ask him these questions? Record his responses on your smart phone, take notes in a notebook, or just listen attentively and soak in his stories.

If your father has already passed away, ask someone else who feels like a “father figure” to you. Or ask mom.

If you have children of your own, invite them to ask you each of these five questions and share your true stories (keeping things age-appropriate, of course!).

You could also do a round-table, multi-generational story hour with your kids, you, and their grandparents, inviting all of the grown ups to take turns telling true stories.

Storytelling can be a powerful opportunity to reinforce your values and teach important life lessons to your child.

For example, maybe as a kid you liked to rebel by ditching school and heading down to the beach to drink beers with your friends, but ultimately, this cost you an athletic scholarship that you’d worked hard to earn.

Or maybe your first kiss was an awkward, uncomfortable experience because you were kissing someone you didn’t even like out of a desire to be “cool” and “accepted.” That might be a “teachable moment” for your child on the importance of being true to yourself and not getting swept up in peer pressure.

Don’t be afraid to tell stories about moments where you failed, made a mistake, or learned something “the hard way.” The human brain is wired to learn through stories. What this means is when you tell your child a true story about your own life, whatever “moral” or “lesson” you want to convey will be absorbed more effectively than if you deliver that same lesson in the form of a “lecture.”

Whether you choose to be the question-asker, the storyteller, or both, take some time to celebrate Father’s Day with a beautiful round of family storytelling.

Give your kids a precious gift:

The gift of really, truly knowing who you are.

It’s a gift they will appreciate now — and even more so, many years from now.

Love, always.

xo.

PS. Dads… here is one more beautiful idea for Father’s Day: record a video-letter to your kids like Corbyn from The Fatherhood Project. Dare you to watch without crying.

PPS. Dads… Want even more tips on how you and your child can share love on Father’s Day? Watch the interview that I did on KHON2 Television, here: http://khon2.com/2015/06/12/keiki-talk-fathers-day-celebration-ideas-for-kids/

This post has also been published on The Huffington Post and on Psychology Today. To read more of my writings that have been featured on these wonderful platforms, click here and here.