If you’ve used #52Stories to write your personal history, try #52Stories for families to help you record your family’s story, one question at a time. These weekly questions will get the conversation going so you and your family can discuss and preserve your most precious memories. At the end of the year, you’ll have a collection of the stories that have shaped your family and strengthened your relationships.
How to use these questions
Ask your family members one question each week for a year. Or pick your 12 favorite questions and ask just one per month.
You can pose each question while gathered all together, or you can send it out by email or text. Visit the #52Stories Printables page to find shareable images to send to your family or to post on social media.
While these questions as written pertain mostly to your family of origin, you can adapt them to capture family stories from your current perspective as a parent or grandparent.
No matter how you approach it, #52Stories for families is a great way to gather multiple perspectives as you collect and record family memories. Bonus: you may also find yourself strengthening generational bonds and forging a strong family identity.
- What are some of your family’s greatest accomplishments—things you worked together to achieve?
- What family goals are or were you forever setting, whether or not you actually achieved them?
- What are the biggest obstacles you’ve overcome together as a family?
- What are some crises, natural disasters, or other tragedies that you had to pull together to get through?
- What are the parameters that define “success” in your family, whether financial, occupational, educational, religious, familial, etc.?
- What are some of the inside jokes that no one outside your family understands?
- What fictional family—anywhere in books, movies, or television—most closely resembles your family and why?
- What movies or books are frequently talked about or quoted in your family?
- How does your family tend to show their love for one another—perhaps through acts of service, gifts, saying it out loud, humor, hugs and physical affection, etc.?
- What are some of the physical traits that make it obvious your family members are all related to one another?
- What are some of the personality traits that run in your family—quiet, loud, adventurous, reserved, hilarious, serious, courageous, cautious, faithful, skeptical, fun-loving, hard-working, etc.
- Are there any occupations that have run in your family for generations?
- Are there any hobbies or common interests that run in your family?
- What are the most common pastimes that your family enjoys together—sports, outdoor activities, board games, music, plays, movies, cooking, swapping stories?
- What songs would be on your family’s soundtrack—the songs that everyone knows the words to?
- What meals would be in your family’s cookbook—the foods that make you feel nostalgic for your childhood or for home?
- What are some of the meals and cooking traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation?
- Which of your maternal grandmother’s physical and personality traits can you identify in her children and grandchildren?
- Which of your maternal grandfather’s physical and personality traits can you identify in his children and grandchildren?
- Which of your paternal grandmother’s physical and personality traits can you identify in her children and grandchildren?
- Which of your paternal grandfather’s physical and personality traits can you identify in his children and grandchildren?
- What old family stories are most often told at family gatherings?
- What are some of the quotes, proverbs, sayings, or aphorisms your family members repeat often?
- What are some unique colloquialisms, phrases, made-up words, and mispronunciations your family is known for?
- What are some of your family’s core values?
- As you’ve looked at your family compared to other families, what makes yours unique, different, or special?
- Does your family have deep roots in a particular place? How has that place impacted your family story?
- How many different cities or towns has your family called home?
- What other families have been particularly influential to your family—cousins, friends, neighbors, in-laws?
- What was your family’s most frequent vacation destination?
- What are the most memorable vacations your family has ever taken together?
- Who are some of the nonrelatives who have played a significant role in your family memories—neighbors, teachers, religious leaders, coaches, community leaders?
- Who are some of the most interesting characters you know about from your family history?
- How has military service or involvement in foreign wars affected your family dynamics, past and present?
- What are some of the major life events that pushed your family in a new direction and brought you where you are today?
- What are some of the historical events (wars, emigration, natural disasters, etc.) that have had a significant impact on your family history?
- How has faith played a role in your family history? What religious traditions influenced your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and beyond?
- What traditions did your family observe around Christmastime?
- What traditions and rituals do you remember surrounding the start of a new school year?
- What were some of your family’s birthday and anniversary traditions?
- Did your family celebrate any obscure holidays or cultural traditions?
- What are the heirlooms, objects, and keepsakes that hold special meaning for your family?
- Does your family have any specific traditions for funerals, Memorial Day, or otherwise commemorating loved ones who have passed on?
- What are some of the names that have been passed down through multiple generations of your family?
- Does your family follow any unique naming conventions, such as being called by a middle name, naming children after ancestors, inventing completely unique names, having all names start with the same letter, etc.?
- What are some of the most unique names that can be found in your family tree? (Try Baby Ancestry to find out.)
- Who are the most famous ancestors that can be found in your family tree? (Try Relative Finder to find out.)
- What are some of the charitable, political, or environmental causes your family fought for, donated to, volunteered for, or continue to support?
- What makes your family laugh? Share some of the funniest stories or events that bring a smile to everyone’s faces.
- Thinking of your family of origin, what were the differences between your dad’s side of the family and your mom’s side that had to be reconciled within your nuclear family? (Affluent vs. middle class, reserved vs. outgoing, religious vs. secular, Republican vs. Democrat, etc.)
- Fill in the blank with as many different words as you can: “We come from a long line of ______________________.”
- What are the values that you hope to see passed down to future generations of your family?