The Questions We Don’t Ask Our Families but Should

the National Association of Senior & Specialty Move Managers® blog

The Atlantic, November 15, 2022 by Elizabeth Keating

Many people don’t know very much about their older relatives. But if we don’t ask, we risk never knowing our own history.

photograph of a family at the beach
Smith Collection / Gado / Getty; The Atlantic

You might think you already know your family’s stories pretty well—between childhood memories and reunions and holiday gatherings, you may have spent hours with your parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles soaking up family lore. But do you really know as much as you think?

As a professor of anthropology, I have always been fascinated by the stories that families tell, and a few years ago, I started researching the tales that are passed down from generation to generation. Part of my motivation was personal. When my mother died in 2014, I realized how much I didn’t know about her life. I never asked the questions that haunt me now—questions about what…

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