5 Meaningful Questions to Ask Your Father... Before It's Too Late

06/08/2015 02:30 am ET | Updated Jun 08, 2016


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 10 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 smartphone, 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 this weekend 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.


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.

Dr. Suzanne Gelb is a clinical psychologist, life coach and family law attorney.

She believes that it is never too late to become the person you want to be. Strong. Confident. Calm. Creative. Free of all of the burdens that have held you back -- no matter what has happened in the past.

Her insights on personal growth have been featured on more than 200 radio programs, 200 TV interviews and online at TIME, Forbes, Newsweek, The Huffington Post, The Daily Love, MindBodyGreen, and many other places.

Step into her virtual office at, explore her blog or sign up to receive a free meditation and her weekly writings on health, happiness and self-respect.

photo credit: Family Hug via photopin (license)