Showing posts with label family secrets. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family secrets. Show all posts

Sunday, November 28, 2010

What About The Children?

When we get married, the next logical thing that happens are the coming of the children.  But when a marriage fails, what happens to the children?  Often times couples forget that the failure of a marriage does not only involve the two of them but largely affects the children. It cannot be denied that the family is vital in the development of children.  I do not think I would be the person that I am if my parents did not prioritize family, specifically their kids. We knew our parents had problems in their marriage but they never made us afraid that our family will fall apart...we were raised secure, comforted by their love and devotion. Yes, it may sound selfish but when you are a child, your parents and family is the only world you know of.  This is why parenthood is such a big sacrifice albeit, a fruitful and joyful one.  So, even if the marriage can't be saved, the children should always remain the priority of the couple. The children should be made to feel they are number one in their parent's lives, and in the eventuality that the parents find new partners then they should be truthful to the children without taking away that sense of love and security. When other half-siblings are born, the children of the first marriage should never be relegated to the background.  I have half-siblings from my father's extra-marital affairs whom he never acknowledged.  They had to wait for his death to be recognized. I do understand that they long for the love that they never received from my dad. Still, I am grateful that my father protected us from his indiscretions and never took away time and resources from us.  It is unfortunate that his illegitimate children had very little time with him when he was alive but then they they were never part of my father's plan in life...they just, happened...calling them an accident may be harsh, but that's the truth. And their mothers are people I would rather not have anything to do with because for me, they are more to blame. These women knew very well that my father already had a family but they still willingly began a relationship with him and even if they thought otherwise, they should have ended it when they realized that for my father, they will always be the other woman. But they didn't and continued the illicit relationship even begetting children without any thought of consequences. My mother stayed with my father knowing all these because of us, her children...and for that I will be forever grateful.   Still, these are my father's children and at present, I do have a semblance of relationship with my half-siblings and I am very happy that they are doing well with their lives in spite of the circumstances of their birth. My mom always say that the children are the innocent victims and in fact, has accepted their presence in our lives more easily than I had, to the point that she even helped send them to school. But I know how much hurt my father gave my Mom and on my part I want to spare her the memory of this hurt by keeping our physical contact with my half siblings to a minimum. I know they want to be recognized, however in order for me to accept them openly, they should put away the lies and illusions told to them and accept the truth about our father, their mothers and about their birth.  Yes, these may be brutal but it's the only way we can have an honest relationship with each other.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Defining Family

I looked up the legal definition of a family and this is what I got...and this...and then this. It only goes to show that today's family is difficult to define because of its diversity primarily due to the many changes it has undergone through the years. In school I was taught that a family consists of a father, a mother and a child.  That teaching continues to this day even when families and family dynamics are no longer as simple as that.  When my son was in Grade 2 in a local Catholic school, his social studies teacher asked them to say something about their families and some of the children gave unusual answers.  She obviously was unprepared (or simply clueless) for what they gave because, not getting the "right" answers, she further explained that a father is the one that made your mother pregnant and a mother is the one who carried you in her tummy! Of course, when he was picked up from school, the first thing my son asked was, "where is my father" and proceeded to relate to his grandmother what the teacher said.  My son by the way was adopted when he was 3 months old and he knew this, but the teacher confused him because the man he considered as Papa was my younger brother. My mom was so livid that she called me at work and demanded that I confront the teacher for her stupidity! I had to pacify her and of course, went to see the teacher. She was apologetic and admitted that she did not know how to respond to the children's sharing and subsequent questioning. To make a long story shorter, I had to sit down with my son about his birth father (he knew who his birth mother was) and being a little boy, he lost interest and even forgot about the whole thing after a few days. My son was only one of the 10 or more kids out of the 30 students whose family dynamics no longer follow the norm.  In fact, he told me that one of his classmates even shared that he had a feeling that his older sister is his real mother...and the poor teacher had no answer to that.

The Family Law definition that defines family as a group of individuals who share ties of blood, marriage, or adoption; a group residing together and consisting of parents, children, and other relatives by blood or marriage; a group of individuals residing together who have consented to an arrangement similar to ties of blood or marriage is an acceptable definition although I think the words "residing together" really refer to the family as a unit and not to the family as a larger group. Also, I believe parents whether biological or not, should be a dad and a mom...I do not want to belabor this issue but I strongly feel from my experience as a single adoptive mother that growing children do not need this added confusion about sexual orientation and the like. My brother became surrogate dad to my son and it made all the difference.  And then there are the blended families and extended families. So for my purposes, I refer to family as the following:
  1. a group of people related by ancestry or marriage; relatives
  2. all those claiming descent from a common ancestor; tribe or clan; lineage
  3. basic social unit consisting of persons united by ties of marriage (affinity), “blood” (consanguinity), or adoption
In my previous post, I wrote that I was discovering a lot of secrets aka little known family facts while making my family tree.  At the same time, it has made me look at families and relations with a little more understanding and empathy than before. It also started me doing some research on family structure and dynamics and how these affects family relationships through the years.

    Monday, November 01, 2010

    Learning From The Scandals Of The Distant Past

    As I am making more progress on my parents' respective family trees, I am also discovering a lot of family secrets...or maybe they were not really secrets but just got buried in the past.  As I unravel our family histories, I realize that human behavior then was not much different from what it is today. The only difference is that in the past there were clear cut rules on appropriate behavior while in this modern age, what is right and wrong has become relative. The poignant movie The Age of Innocence is a good example of how relationships and it's complications were handled by the middle and upper class in the 19th to the mid 20th century. There was a standard of behavior that put emphasis on importance of family and respect of society. If you fail to observe these, you are banished, exiled or marked as a persona non grata doomed to be set aside and ignored by family and society the rest of your life.  In the past, arranged marriages were common and if you're lucky, you may actually fall in love but more often than not, it was very businesslike.  And so it is not uncommon to find husbands with extra-marital affairs and illegitimate children from these affairs...or unhappy trophy wives, bored with their passionless marriage or controlled by overbearing husbands who would spend their days gossiping or gambling or giving birth.  Of course, just because our ancestors were in an arranged marriage does not mean all of the above happens. If ever there were scandals, it could just as well mean that some of my ancestors were free spirits and non-conformists!  There is also such a thing as "repeating the sins of the father" my father's tree for example, we are descended from a man whom we never knew had 3 women in his life.  I always thought that my great-great grandmother was his only wife and that he died relatively young since his children ranged from 18 to 3 years old at the time of his death.  It was only years later that I learned that our line is from the 3rd wife and he probably died of old age!  The point that I am trying to make is that when it comes to illicit sexual relationships and all the emotions and lies that come with it, nothing has changed from the past to the present.  How about the future?  I am hopeful about the future because unlike in the past when these were never talked about, today we are more open, more honest and more willing to talk about our feelings and problems.  While the past encouraged secrets, the future calls for honesty.

    Next: Defining Family

    Important Note: The meet and greet party has been moved to November 20, still a Saturday.  So far we have about 15 confirmed people coming. 

    Friday, August 13, 2010

    Family Secrets...and Why The Truth Has To Be Set Free

    I am a relatively honest person...what you see is what you get and I have very few secrets, probably because I am not very good at remembering or keeping one.  On the other hand, I would always tell my friends that if they have something to confide, they should make me promise to keep it a secret and I will honor that promise till the end of time. But what about family secrets? The kind that everyone wants to forget...those that are considered taboo...those which changed lives...or that which was deemed so humiliating and scandalous that to talk about it will mean banishment! (big grin)

    Well, I think every family has at least one and family secrets have a way of making themselves known...sooner or later. Why?  Oftentimes, simply because the time has come to tell the real story.  Although I personally believe that family secrets are not subjects for bedtime stories, I also believe that there are those because of their very nature, have been the subject of speculation, hearsay, illusions and delusions, so that an injustice continues to be made to the original parties concerned, as this "perceived truth" is handed down through the generations.  These are the kind that needs to be revealed/clarified and placed in it's proper perspective. Sometimes what people perceive as true is not really the truth but if said often enough, eventually becomes their reality.  The saying that not everything is as it seems is especially true when it comes to family secrets. 

    So how should a family secret be revealed?  Now, I do not advocate telling it to one and sundry. 

    My experience tells me that when the time comes, the person that need to know has to be told honestly and simply. One should be prepared to back up their story with the facts.  Yes, in some cases, the truth will hurt but then, truth also sets us free. It cannot be avoided that shock, blame, regret and sadness will occur when family secrets are discussed, but the sins of our ancestors are not ours and we should learn to understand and hopefully, forgive.  Learning and talking about family secrets has made me a better person, I has made me understand the humanness of our ancestors and man in has given me a broader perspective on showed me how people can rise above adversity and made me realize that things happen to the best of people for reasons only they know...and finally, that family secrets are nothing to be ashamed of, because it is a fact that some of our ancestors' mistakes produced a few of our family's greatest achievements.  Still, there is the question, does the end justify the means?  In an ideal world our private lives should mirror our public lives.  This is why I believe that family secrets when the occasion calls for it should be revealed and used to help future generations learn from the experiences of our ancestors and finally heal the family.  

    There are no mistakes in life...only lessons.

    PS. I wrote this post after many discoveries and realizations I had while doing our family tree :) 

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