I find it amazing that we can live with someone 24/7 and not really know their deep, inner thoughts…their hopes and dreams…their strong likes and dislikes. And do you know why? Because we never think to ask!
One day, when my daughters were very young, I suddenly realized there were little things I didn’t know about them. I knew who their best friend was, but I didn’t know why. What was it about that friend that made them so special? What was their most prized possession, and why? If they could go anywhere in the world, where would it be, and why? Etc., etc., etc…
The Birthday Survey
That’s when I developed the “Birthday Survey.” This Survey is a list of questions with room for their answers. At the top of the survey is a blank for their name, the date, and their age. When it was their birthday, I’d give them the Survey to fill out (when they were too young to write, I’d ask the questions and fill in the blanks with their answers).
As the years progressed, I made changes to the Birthday Survey — making the questions more age appropriate. Find the complete list of questions used throughout the years here. (You can add some of your own as you see fit!)
The girls enjoyed filling out these Surveys every year because it was all about them as a person, and how they felt, and what they thought. When they finished filling out the survey, I took time to read over it and absorb what they had to say. Those surveys proved to be not only interesting, but very enlightening. I was amazed at some of the things they wrote…things you’d think I would know as their mother…but I didn’t. The surveys also gave me valuable insight into how each of my daughters thought – some of their answers showed they could be pretty deep thinkers. As a parent, I think it’s really important to try to understand your child, and this is a great tool to help you do so.
I also found it interesting to see how their thoughts and feelings about certain things changed from one year to another. When they were young, one of them didn’t like boys because “boys liked frogs.” A few years later, they suddenly liked boys!
A bonus that I didn’t think about at first, but realized later on — by having the girls write down their answers, it was interesting and fun to watch how their penmanship changed through the years!
By the way, I kept all of those Surveys in a binder and gave them to the girls when they got married. They loved looking at some of their answers. And, those Surveys became a written history about each of them!
Image via Flickr by Will Clayton
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