“Pap, Vertel ‘s!” (“Dad, Tell Me”): The original Dutch version of the book by Elma van Vliet

It was a book that begged to be read. I stared at its cover for a few more moments before asking my partner, Rob, what it was about. He turned to look at it and his eyes lit up instantly. He carefully picked up the book from the coffee table, like it was a fragile object, and passed it to me. He explained that he’d given this book to his father as a present. Several months later, his father returned the book, except, now, the book was worth countless times more than the price Rob had paid for it at the book store. It was a journal, one that’s filled with questions that every child would like to ask their parents. Rob’s father spent many hours answering the questions and accompanying his answers with beautiful family photos. The result was an inspiring, entertaining, heartfelt story about what it was like growing up, the highlights and challenges, finding the love of his life, raising Rob and seeing him go through life’s trials and tribulations. It was the story of raising a child through the eyes of his father – a story every child needs to know.

Dad, what was it like raising me?

The journal contained a collection of questions, many of which I would’ve loved to ask my Dad, such as “Which characteristics did I inherit from you, and which from Mum?”, “What was it like raising me?”, “During which moments were you most proud of me?” and “What have you learned from me?”.

The journal contained funny anecdotes and lovely family photos

There were also chapters with questions about the father’s adolescent years. Rob’s father did a magnificent job in answering every question with funny anecdotes and vivid descriptions of many cherished moments.

Rob read from a few of his favourite pages and I was simply struck by awe. This was a precious window into his father’s life and his bond with his child. His father’s honesty was truly gripping.

The journal contained many life lessons – the ones we pass from generation to generation – on self-discovery, parenting, overcoming obstacles and fulfilling dreams, as well as insights into what it’s like to be a parent. Above all, it’s a testament of the true bond that exists between a father and his child.

I decided to do some research and discovered that the journal (originally in Dutch) is also available in English in various versions. Written by Elma van Vliet, there’s a journal for fathers and for mothers. It’s a great gift to our parents; I’m sure many will enjoy answering the questions and looking up old family photos and other things to include. And it’s a great gift from a parent to a child, one that will be filled with stories every child needs to know.

A big thank you goes to Rob’s father for creating this inspiring book and for allowing me to publish a photo of its content.

Mum, if you’re reading this… expect a package in the mail soon! 🙂

About the author of “The Mother’s Book”

Photo & bio: Vertel Eens by Elma van Vliet

Upon learning that her mother was seriously ill, Elma van Vliet sat down and wrote The Mother’s Book, a collection of questions that would allow her to find out who her mother really was. She wanted to learn what her mum had been like as a girl, what her dreams had been at 18, who she had fallen in love with first, how she had felt about the birth of her child… and many more. She published her first book, “Mam, Vertel’s” (“Mum, Tell Me”) in 2004 and dedicated it to her mother. Since then, various versions for fathers, grandparents and friends were published and translated into English, German and Russian. Visit her website “Vertel Eens” (in Dutch only).


17 Responses

  • Hi Jenny,
    Thanks for your lovely comment. I think this book would help as it’s basically about providing answers to questions in the book. It’s a lot easier answering questions than starting with a blank page.


  • Wow. That is so cool. I actually asked my grandma 6-months ago to write in a journal I gave her about her life for me. She keeps wanting it to be in chronological order (as she writes remembers more things) so she’s doing it on paper first and then is going to transfer it to the book. She hasn’t written much (claims she’s too “busy”). I keep telling her to just write in the journal and don’t worry about it being in order… Maybe a book like this would help guide her.

  • That’s interesting Keith. Great idea, something I should work on.


  • Yes a great legacy for ones kids. For some a blog could be this record today.

  • very nice article Keith, and all true! And it’s an amazing book!

  • What a great way to leave a “legacy” to one’s offspring. Unfortunately, both my parents are gone now. Had they done this, it would certainly be a much thumbed book. But I still have the memories and some old pictures.

  • Thanks Janice! I can’t wait to read what my Mum has to say. Hahaha! This is such an inspiring book – so glad I stumbled upon it.
    Keith xxx

  • Thank you for this Keith. It is an inspiration – a project I would like my Mom to complete and one that I should do for my sons.

  • Hi Ciki,

    You’ll have to give it to your Mum and/or Dad first and they’ll have to write it. Should make for a brilliant read. I can imagine you were a erm… “interesting” child. LOL! 😉


  • wow.. what a great idea.. and what a great book. Now, I totally MUST read it!! 🙂

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