Have you ever gone out in public or to a party with your family, and then they say or do something embarrassing that it just makes you want to disappear? Well, me too — and I don’t think it ever stops, even as a grown up. I’ve been a victim of a million or more dad jokes, had my baby picture shown to my crush, and been stuck in the corner of a couch while my grandma told me stories of how she used to watch me as a baby.
No one is safe from being embarrassed by their family, dad jokes, or otherwise. Absolutely no one.
Despite all the embarrassing moments that we might incur from our elders — parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. — we should still make an effort to talk to them. I know, I know, this might be one of the hardest things to do as a teen; it’s still hard, even for me. But I’ve learned so many interesting things about my elders and about the vast mysteries of life, all because I chose to ask them questions and listened to what they had to say. They’ve seen it all, or at the very least, much more than us. From cassette tapes to streaming applications, school dances to college graduations, and Hot Cheetos to Sriracha flavored potato chips, the elders in our lives have years worth of experience and wisdom just ready and waiting to be passed down onto us.
In Scripture it even says, “Think back on the days of old, reflect on the years of age upon age. Ask your father and he will inform you, ask your elders and they will tell you” (Deuteronomy 32:7). So in essence, all we need to do is ask questions. Now, if you find it difficult to talk to your elders or are unable to think of questions on your own, here’s some that you can use:
How was your day?
You probably hear this question a lot after coming back home from school or spending time with your friends. Believe it or not, you can totally use it too. It’s a simple question that can help ease your way into a deeper conversation. By asking about their day, you can learn things like the inner workings of their job, how your grandparents spend their days as retirees, and it could bring about a funny story that wouldn’t be heard otherwise.
What’s their favorite holiday or season?
From spring to winter, Valentine’s Day to Christmas, your elders are bound to have one holiday or season that they absolutely love. Maybe it’s made obvious through household decor or by the scale of family gatherings that always take place during that particular time. Once they tell you, you can follow it up by asking them why it’s their favorite and proceed to listen to the childhood stories that are sure to come afterwards. You can always ask for their favorite Liturgical season, too, find out how their faith has been strengthened during that season, and learn different ways to deepen your own relationship with God.
What’s your favorite childhood memory?
Before our elders became the hardworking, established adults that they are today, they were once small, little children. Sometimes, I find this hard to believe because mom and dad has always been — well, mom and dad. It’s nice to hear these stories of the past and see them lost in happy nostalgia while retelling their experiences. You may even get a chance to enter their old room or hold some of their most prized possessions as a child. These blasts from the past serve as good reminders of what has come before.
Ask your grandparents about your parents/aunt/uncle as children.
One story that my grandma often tells about my dad is how once during a walk, he ran ahead to pick a flower from the side of the road and gave it to my grandma saying, “I picked this for you mommy.” Cue the confusion of emotions of my heart melting and disbelief that that was once my father. Grandparents always seem to tell the sweetest yet funniest stories possible and with it, we are able to see our parents and older relatives in a new light. By hearing these childhood stories, we can also see the joy and blessings that God has bestowed on the generations that came before and how that God-given joy is truly endless.
How did they meet the love of their life/How do they continue to remain in love?
Whether or not they were high school sweethearts or met by chance through mutual friends, all elderly couples have stories of how they met and how they eventually decided to stay together. If you’re ever in need of relationship advice, you can always turn to your elders. Even if it seems weird or uncomfortable, they’ve created and cultivated a long-lasting relationship that ended in marriage and have become an example of how to make a relationship work. Most importantly, they have become an example of love. God has made His love evident through the relationships around us and wants us to know it, even if our calling is to join a religious order or remain as a devoted single instead.
These are but a few questions that you can use to get to know your elders, learn from their experiences, and see all the different ways God has been present throughout the generations. I pray that you will be able to see past all of the embarrassing moments that might happen and see the kind, loving community that God has made. God is making himself known through your elders, one dad joke and cute baby picture at a time.