Here I am, my today's self transported back to 1981, to the happy and cosy Paris western suburbs of my childhood. I know I will be here for a few hours and the only thing I would like to do is to meet my parents.

I am standing in front of their door and wonder how the hell I will be able to tell them that I am their son, just 35 years older. They are typical, down to earth people - him an engineer and her a lawyer.

I am a normal guy so I do not want to kill them, or myself or any other gruesome action. I just want to tell them that they were fantastic parents, that I love them very much, that they will have great grandsons and that, accessory, they should try really hard to contact Mr Brin and Mr Page, 10 years from now in Stanford and invest everything they have in their crazy company.

But how? What should I say first, then in the next minutes, then in the next hour so that they (probably reluctantly) believe that the impossible has happened?

I sure have some vague memories from childhood, I am not sure if they were before or after 1981 and I could conceivably tell them some things which are "unique" to us - but I do not want them to call the police because of a lunatic, or maybe a spy (since I know so much about their family).
We were a normal family, without any dark secrets which would maybe have convinced them better. Just the normal stuff, some things broken, some happy and sad moments - The Wonder Years in the France of the '80s, so to speak.

My finger is on the doorbell. Please help me.

Following up on some comments: I did see another similar question and wanted though the introduction to set up a different context. This is a family reunion, there is no meeting with scientists involved - just me and my parents. And crucial first minutes to make it or break it (and not be arrested or shoo-ed away).
Consequences do not matter - I may come back to my timeline, an alternative one or just vanish after the meeting, whatever.

@sphennings mentioned that it could be a short story - I am not a writer and will not write it (EDIT: well, who knows). It is actually a dream which prompted some further reflexions.
I also asked my real parents about it a few weeks ago - what should I have told them to make them believe. They are still thinking :)

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This looks like an excellent prompt for a short story (Please write it). However in it's current form I think this question is too story based. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 17:24
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ There are a lot of answers here: worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/12348/…. Are none of them helpful? $\endgroup$ Commented May 9, 2017 at 17:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @theindigamer: I have read them (and upvoted a few) and should have probably noted that in my question. The point I wanted to make is that the meeting is between people close to each other, there are no prediction to make (it is just a few hours), no external people are involved. I am not prepared either (digging in my memory or family history). If there is an answer which helps to solve the problem in that context I would be glad to tag as duplicate. $\endgroup$
    – WoJ
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 17:41
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings: I wrote it like this because I wanted to set a specific context (different from other questions). I will update the question with this and another info. $\endgroup$
    – WoJ
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 17:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Vincent: I mentioned this question in my question - to show they are different. $\endgroup$
    – WoJ
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 18:56

4 Answers 4


The question seems to be less about time, and the consequences or requirements for time travel, and more on convincing a person that you did, in fact, travel in time.

One way to do this is to explain how time travel works to the person. If the engineer farther is able to comprehend the time travel, then he may be more open to the plausibility. That may be difficult, as time travel isn't actually possible, so you may need other methods.

Perhaps tell them things they tell you in the future. An issue with that would be them thinking you're a spy (like you mentiones in the OP). You could try telling them advice they give you later on. If they recognize the advice as something they would conceivably say, they may be more inclined to believe you.

Another possibility would be asking them what would convince them. The issue would be that it isn't guaranteed to satisfy or convince them, and what they ask may not be possible. The main issue would be that very little is a sure-fire way to convince anyone. It does somewhat depend on how willing they would be to believe.

If you had preparation, you could take items they'd recognize as unique, but had succumb to weathering over time. You could also bring a recording of your parents from your time telling your parents in the past that it really is time travel. If that's not possible, pictures of your parents may work.

It isn't usually one major proof (unless you had them travel in time too), but many mini proofs put together to build a foundation of belief. So it would likely be best to establish a charismatic, friendly interaction with them, and ease into the subject.


You have (at least) the same DNA, fingerprints and footprints as someone they have access to. Many if not most people also have skin imperfections or scars too. DNA might not be very useful to a non-biologist in 1981, but fingerprints should be easy to check with materials on hand.

Now you are either the product of a cutting edge government or alien conspiracy or telling the truth. And all you want from them is some to give them long term stock advice and say "Thanks". How paranoid are they?

  • $\begingroup$ Ooh. DNA. Excellent point. Hard to fake a familial match. Ofc, it couls take longer than a few hours to preform. Still, I like it. $\endgroup$
    – Iter
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 18:29
  • $\begingroup$ Good ideas - I now wish we had a DNA sequencing device at home. $\endgroup$
    – WoJ
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 18:31
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    $\begingroup$ Don't say that near an apple product unless you mean it. $\endgroup$
    – user25818
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 18:38

Before going on your time travelling trip, sit down with an internet connection and start writing a detailed plan for building a financial empire starting in 1981, with nothing but pocket change and everything your computer knows about the last 36 years.

Look up the best stocks to buy or sell each month and which long-shot-won sports events to bet on. Make a list of currently unused property addresses which have escalated tremendously in the past few decades, so that your stock and sports winnings can be preserved in an inflation proof way. For safety sake, throw in list of disasters to avoid and a list of political candidates to back.

If the 35yo you has a crush on some 21st century actress or rock star, do a quick internet search and add her real name and home town to your growing document. Suggest in that text, that your parents should arrange for you to meet her so that you can become friends, long before the talent scouts find her.

In the closing pages, make note of when each of your extended family members are going to face challenges for which your loving support could greatly improve their lives. ..and list which ones are going to die and when, so that younger you can get right with each of them before their end.

In other words, set down on paper, all the information which a younger you might need to lead a blessed and prosperous life. Then print it out and take it with you on your trip into the past.

When you meet your parents, give them the printout and explain to them who you are and what it is. Then leave it with them with instructions to give it to the younger you when they feel you are ready.

None of this will help your parents believe that you are future you during your brief visit to the past. But as each stock and sports predictions comes true, they will slowly come to realize that there is no other explanation than that you are you.

Then, if your time machine is up for a second trip, arrange to visit them one year later and get ready to be recognized and happily greeted as you knock on that door.

  • $\begingroup$ He's already in the doorstep. There's nothing stated in this answer that could help him to be recognized and not ignored/kicked out/shot by their parents. $\endgroup$
    – FireSarge
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 19:42
  • $\begingroup$ Was getting ready to down-vote and say this doesn't answer the question at all, then you salvaged it with that last sentence. You answered a different question than the one asked, then brought it around to sort of answer the one at hand. Interesting, and beneficial to the family at the same time. Only real issue is that OP didn't say anything about being able to go a second time a year later, so maybe this would work, maybe not. Clever anyway, and with the OP's limitation of "I'll only be there a short time," this might be the only way to do it. $\endgroup$
    – Loduwijk
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 19:43
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks Aaron, but I think FireSarge is right. On re-reading the OP's question, I see that it specifically rules out any preparation. He didn't ask for help until his finger was on the bell button, so from that frame of reference, my answer is not very useful. I'm leaving it here as a thought experiment for other forum members... What would you write in your document? ... but it really isn't an appropriate answer to this question. $\endgroup$ Commented May 9, 2017 at 19:48

Since you don't care about any consequences, you could really just tell them how it is.

Depending on your parents you should start with things that get their curiosity. Maybe your father was always interesting in the some specific science. You know them, so you will know topics they like to discuss.

The start will be a little odd. Since usually people don't ring your bell to chat when they don't know you. Maybe you could start with a tiny lie, that you moved in and are new to the neighbourhood.

Since all you seem to want is a short chat about a few hours you could get into a small chit chat.

From there gradually suprise with little similarities. How you know other members of the family maybe.

Ideal would be some sort of drinking coffee together causally talk about this and that.

Now if you want them to believe you outright, I'm not really sure. You could maybe predict some future things to happen soon. In a way like "I bet xy happens soon." They might not believe you or think you are silly or joking. Then tell them everything you wanted to say. When they think you are crazy you just tell them all the things you predicted are true and will happen and they can later decide if they believe you. Thank them for the nice time and the coffee and go, hope the best.

This way you had a nice time and "reunion" and they will maybe start to believe you once the predicted stuff happens. You have the nice feeling of meeting them, telling them everything you wanted and a chance for believe.

Old answer for reference

Depending on your in universe explanation on time travel and its implications on the future you might want to make sure not to mess up the timeline you are currently in. The safest bet would maybe just be a plain letter.

I know you can't thell them in person that you are their son and that's sad, but what if this revelation totally changes the future you are from?

Maybe just give them a letter. Tell them it is from a good friend. They may only open it on the day before they should invest. Inside pack another letter. In the first tell them to invest. They are probably shocked enough by the fact the writer knew about the company 10 years in advance.

Then instruct them to read the other letter on a later date. They seem to be dead already, otherwise you wouldn't want to tell them how great they used to be. So maybe shortly before their deaths would be a good time to let them open their respective letter.

I know the answer is not really fancy, but if the travel to the past could affect the future it's the safest bet in my opinion.

  • $\begingroup$ I actually forgot to state in my question that I do not care about the consequences. I may come back to my timeline, an alternate one or just vanish. What happens is not the core of my question - rather how to deal with the situation in the span of a few hours, consequences aside. $\endgroup$
    – WoJ
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 17:48
  • $\begingroup$ Also: I do want to tell them I am their son, it is just not something someone is ready to hear and take seriously (thus my question) $\endgroup$
    – WoJ
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 17:53
  • $\begingroup$ Well, unless you have some proof with you it would be hard to make anyone believe it on the spot. I just thought of a birthmark or something that is uniquely to you that only they would know. That would be rather convenient though. But I think the best you can do is give them a little time. I said that part about consequences because I expected you to care for their well being in the future tbh. At least that would be a major concern for me if I was in such a situation. Well, for that reason I wouldn't try to tell them if I was time traveling either. ;) $\endgroup$
    – Morfium
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 18:13

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