Did your parents . . . ?

I am no psychologist, but I try very hard to understand the people around me and I believe that you cannot understand someone in isolation.  Maybe I have been effected by the family systems theory of Salvador Minuchin, but I find it very helpful to consider their family relationships when trying to really understand people; especially a person’s relationship with parents.

Here are twenty-two questions that one psychologist discovered “elicited the most productive and revealing responses.”

  1. Did your parents view the world as irrational?
  2. Were you taught how to develop your mind?
  3. Were you encouraged to think independently?
  4. Were you free to express your opinions openly?
  5. Did your parents ridicule your opinions?
  6. Did your parents treat your thoughts with respect?
  7. Were you psychologically visible to them?
  8. Did you feel you were a source of pleasure to them?
  9. Did your parents deal with you fairly and justly?
  10. Did your parents physically punish you?
  11. Did your parents believe in your basic goodness?
  12. Did they believe in your intellectual potential?
  13. Did they take cognizance of your knowledge and context?
  14. Did your parents cultivate guilt within you?
  15. Did they produce fear within you?
  16. Did they respect intellectual and physical privacy?
  17. Did they want you to have self-esteem?
  18. Did they make you realize that what you made of your life was important?
  19. Did your parents encourage a fear of the world?
  20. Were you encouraged to openly express yourself?
  21. Were you encouraged to like your body and sex?
  22. Was your masculinity or femininity reinforced?

I cannot imagine ever asking a friend several of the questions above.  However, a few of them should be great conversation starters.  In fact, #8 “Did you feel you were a source of pleasure to them?” is very similar to a conversation that I have had with many friends.

What do you think?  Is it important to know about someone’s family in order to really know them?