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February 14, 2016 1:49 PM   Subscribe

How can I help a parent to get to know me better?

One of my parents came to the realization that they don't really know all that much about me (and is sad about it), although we are in regular communication and get along well. Said parent can be rather verbose in conversation, so I thought the best way to help would be to send letters. Whenever I try to think up a topic, however, I either come up with a million possible options or draw a complete blank. What topics would be good to discuss? I'd like to avoid anything particularly heavy. Where do I start? What would you want to know about your adult child?
posted by jet_pack_in_a_can to Human Relations (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I think the random things that go through our heads at stoplights are unique to us. Just stream of consciousness streamed onto paper. I'd love a letter from my grown son that said "Today on my way to work I got stuck behind a school bus and every time it stopped I thought about ..... " or "I was disappointed to learn that I had listened to every single episode of [podcast] already so I am on a quest for more spoken-word content about [X]." or "The Indian place by my office has the most amazing lunch buffet. Me and two guys I work with go once a week and we don't even talk to each other we're so busy eating. In fact I don't even have anything in common with them except our shared love of this good/cheap food."
posted by headnsouth at 2:18 PM on February 14, 2016 [6 favorites]

Your favorite music could be a good start. Send a letter and a mixed cd. You could also do a couple versions of favorite music from different times throughout your life. My sister and I have had a few conversations about the music we remember hearing growing up and our parents were pretty interested in that conversation since a lot of that music was from them.

Music is where I would start.
posted by Swisstine at 2:20 PM on February 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Letters are too much pressure. Is there any way you could be more casual about this? I mean, it's the little interactions and observations and shared moments that generally make friendships and intimacy between peers. I would be inclined to maybe do an Instagram account or something? Shoot your lunches, the places you go, your commute etc?
posted by DarlingBri at 2:23 PM on February 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

I did this with my half brother when I first met him and it was a great way to get to know him. Google "100 questions that no one ever asks" - those would be fun to go through. I think I would group them so that each letter goes over 3 or 4 questions.
posted by dawkins_7 at 2:36 PM on February 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

I shared books which were important to me with my mother. Then we would talk about the books. It was helpful for both of us.
posted by frumiousb at 3:06 PM on February 14, 2016

A lot of 'getting to know you' takes place in seeing/knowing the quotidien details of your life.

If you stay in touch electronically, I added my parents onto a couple distribution mechanisms for everyday life that I already used (snapchat, for example) to communicate with friends.

You saw something funny - snap sent! You played with your dog - snap sent! You did a project around the house - snap sent!

I also have added family on Goodreads, so they can see what books I'm reading and I can see their book activity.
posted by bookdragoness at 3:22 PM on February 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

Nthing the seemingly mundane, for one...

it may seem strange or unhealthy to live in the past, in general, but trust me parents want to know how you felt/what you thought about events in your childhood. If there are any events that stand out, especially those you appreciate (times your parents were there for you, made sure you got to do something, etc.), those are good things to talk about. You don't have to be super-heavy/maudlin. If you have kids of your own, relate those events to things you're doing with your kids.

Facebook is really good for keeping up with daily life. It may bore you to tears, but just - post stuff. It's been really valuable for keeping me connected to my own older relatives.

Bless you for honoring them - you will never regret time spent making an effort.
posted by randomkeystrike at 4:07 PM on February 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

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