Because of all my experience with graduations, you’d think I would have created the perfect set of questions for this occasion long ago. But you’d be wrong. I didn’t, and I’m ashamed. But this book and my son’s nearing completion of his bachelor’s degree next year (praise God) gave me reason to remedy this omission. I have to admit, though, that I went to the source for some of the questions below by asking my son for some ideas. The first six are his.
- What are you most afraid of regarding the next stage of your life? (I thought this was interesting because it was the first question that popped out of his mouth and probably one we don’t often ask but should.)
- What are you most excited about regarding the next stage of your life?
- What do you think will be the greatest opportunity you’ll have in the future as a result of your education?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- What have been your greatest successes in school?
- What have been your greatest failures in school?
Inform the interviewee as to how much time he or she will have to answer the questions and remind the person periodically of the time remaining so he or she can determine how much emphasis he or she wants to give a certain topic.
Finally, feel free to interrupt (when appropriate) to ensure there is no confusion or lack of understanding. After all this maybe the last time you’ll ask the person these questions or hear his or her answers.
Our Elders: Individual Interview Questions
- What are the most cherished and significant memories and events of your life?
- What was your first memory?
- Where were you born? (Ask for the city, region, country, and birth location, such as hospital, home, etc.)
- Who was present at your birth?
My favorite time to use questions is when my husband and I celebrate our anniversary. We usually take turns asking each other questions and have done it often enough that we can be rather spontaneous and let the questions come as they may. For those who are more analytical and need time to think before responding, I suggest you provide the questions in advance. These questions, paired with a great meal and an adult beverage or two (though not necessary), are the best aphrodisiac I know! If you need additional questions, check out the “Romance and Sex” chapter later in this book.
- In the last year, what were the low point and high point for you? (We always start with this one!)
- In the last year, what thoughtful, kind, or meaningful thing did I do for you unexpectedly that you really appreciated?
- After ____ years, what still surprises you about me?
- What is your favorite part of my body?
- What is your wish for me this year? (Be careful with this one. Make sure you don’t use it as an opportunity to criticize or request that your partner change in some way.)
- What do you see as my greatest strength professionally, personally, and as a parent? (Ask each question individually.)
- What was your greatest fear about getting married, and did it come true?
- What was your greatest hope, wish, or desire about getting married, and did it come true?
This activity is simple. When the birthday girl, boy, man, or woman is ready, everyone sits in a circle. I usually ask, “Who wants to begin?” I do this because some people take longer to form their thoughts and ideas, especially if they’ve never done this exercise before. Each person, when ready, completes the following statement.
“What I appreciate about ____________ is…” (no sarcasm is allowed).
Note: I encourage everyone present, regardless of age, to participate, even if he or she can say only one thing. I’ve found this to be an excellent way for young children, teens, and young adults to learn the language of friendship and love and to be able to share it in a safe environment.
Next ask the person celebrating his or her birthday to answer one or more of the following questions.
- What have you learned of significance in your ____ years that you want to share with us?
- What are you most proud of related to your life thus far?
- What abilities or attributes have you acquired thus far in your life?