Non-telling parents build drafty houses

Like many women of my age I am part of a book club.  We are currently reading In the Light of What We Know by Zia Haider Rahman.  It is a deep and complex tale of two friends, both of Pakistani parentage but brought up mostly outside of that country.  As one settles into a conventional life and what turns out to be an unsatisfactory marriage the other disappears, only to re-appear disheveled and exhausted many years later.  It is an absorbing read, but what really caught my eye the other day was a quote from the poet A.E. Housman at the beginning of Chapter4.  It is intended I think as a comment on the illusory house of cards nature of the banking and investment industry which forms part of the history of both of the friends, but it struck me forcibly how apposite it is for the precarious nature of the family structure built by non-telling parents, many of whom waste precious time and energy on not allowing the truth about how their family was built to see daylight.  See what you think – “Knowledge, and especially disagreeable knowledge, cannot by any art be totally excluded even from those who do not seek it.  Wisdom, said Aeschylus long ago, comes to men whether they will or no.  The house of delusions is cheap to build, but drafty to live in, and ready at any instant to fall; and it is surely truer prudence to move our furniture betimes into the open air than to stay indoors until our tenement tumbles about our ears.  It is and it must in the long run be better for a man to see things as they are than to be ignorant of them” A.E.Housman

PS:  I recommend the book too.


About oliviasview

Co-founder and now Practice Consultant at Donor Conception Network. Mother to two donor conceived adults and a son conceived without help in my first marriage.
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1 Response to Non-telling parents build drafty houses

  1. marilynn says:

    Very deep.

    You are an advocate of telling and getting others to tell and maybe you are able to get them to tell by making them feel like the thing they are telling is different than it is or is different than they think it is. The fact is that they need to tell the person they are raising that they are not their biological parent and that one of their biological parents is absent from their lives and wanted it that way. The person they are raising will come to understand that they also have absent bio family members that they may or may not ever meet who in all likelihood don’t even know they were ever born. The goal of telling is to not lie by omission and lead them to think that they are related to someone if they are not. To describe that as telling them about their origins or their beginings or how they came to be or to describe it as how they were conceived probably makes it easier for people to build up the courage to do. It does not sound nearly as daunting as telling them they are not related to you or that you’re not their biological parent. But I think if people are too vague when they tell it is also not truthful. It is not how they were conceived or their beginings or origins that they need to talk about openly, they need to be comfortable describing them as someone else’s biological child and be comfortable saying the family raising them is not the only family they have. It’s not about how they began but rather who they are and are not related to that they might misunderstand that might wind up being the lie by omission. Telling the truth all the way is important I think. But maybe to get people to tell at all you have to down play it. It just seems like describing whats being told as beginings or conception plays into the same fear and shame that not telling does.

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