Wednesday, January 03, 2007

We'd like your opinion, please.... Would you want to know?

Mr. kenju told me something tonight about someone in his family that I never knew. In fact, only two people are still alive who know anything about it.

When an older relative of his was young, he had a child out of wedlock with a woman the family knew. He later dated another woman, and he told her that he had previously had a child, but he was not involved in that child's life. (We don't know if he supported that child financially). She accepted that and they married, staying together for decades until his death. She has since died too.

They had one child, a son. That son is now becoming interested in his family geneaology, and is asking all sorts of questions concerning them. Since Mr. kenju has been doing the family tree for years, he is the logical one to ask for information.

Mr. kenju is one of the people who know about this additional child, a half-sister to the son. As far as this son knows, he has no siblings, either half or whole. Mr. kenju asked me if I thought he should be told about her. I answered that if it were me, I would definitely want to know if I had a half-sibling. As an only child, I think he would want to know about her.

However, it stands to reason that if he finds out about his father having a child before wedlock, he will be perplexed and angry that his father never told him about the other child. It will besmirch his father's reputation, and he is no longer here to defend himself. Also, there is the chance that mr. kenju, as the "messenger" will have to take some heat if he is the one who spills the beans.

My answer to that is "tough noogies". The son should be told about his half-sister and if he responds negatively in relation to his father - he will have a lot of time to think about why his father did not tell him about the child. I happen to think that his father should have told him when he reached the age of 21.

What do you think?

Should Mr. kenju tell this man about his half-sister? Or should he keep the secret forever?

31 comments:

Judy said...

I'm like you.. I would want to know if it was me. Just because your parents have secrets you don't know about, doesn't mean you love them any the less. It might make you rethink some things (like my parents are perfect... yeah, right), but I think he has the right to know. Does Mr. kenju have any additional information (like the sister's name or the name of her mother)? If there's no way for son to get in touch with half-sister, it might be crueler to tell. I know, I know... not a bit of help, am I??? But... what a story that would make ;-)

Anonymous said...

Tell. Absolutely. And, given the people who should have told the story are gone, Mr. Kenju seems the ideal messenger.

I found out (under crappy circumstances) at 18 that I had an older half-brother and half-sister. I grew up thinking I was the oldest of 3, and it was a bit of a shock. There were many questions and a time to adjust to the 'new' reality. But, I would far rather know than not, and actually met my brother a few times. We haven't kept in touch (he has his own family, and I guess he satisfied his curiosity), but it was good to find each other.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I agree with you Judy. I think he should absolutely tell him about his half sister...I would think he would want to know even if at first it makes him upset with his father....this is a relative and they are or could be family to each other....I Vote Yes! Tell him.

Anonymous said...

I am so grateful that I have siblings that can walk through life with me after our parents are gone and I would hate to be robbed of that if it could be prevented. I think Mr. Kenju should tell this man about his family so that HE can decide to can make connections that may last him a lifetime.

ET said...

As one who has been doing genealogy for over 30 years I say Mr. Kenju should share all the information he has, the good and the not-so-good.
It is something the recipient needs to know eventually anyway - genealogy or not.

Clarence said...

Personally, I know of very few secrets that are better kept secret for good reason. Usually, a secret that can bring negative results when revealed is taken to the grave undisclosed by the secret holder. Such secrets are rarely known by more than one person. In my opinion you are correct. This son should be informed and allowed to decide if he wants to go anywhere with the information. At least he had the choice available. If he tries and is unable to make a connection, it won't be the only time he runs into such a scenario if he continues on with his family tree search.

Alan G said...

Well, this is a post that I can certainly relate to with regard the subject matter. I will try to make this brief however.

My real father left me and my mother when I was around three years old. I have never seen him since. My mother re-married when I was around six years old and my stepfather adopted me a year or so later. I was a “Jr” so they changed my first and last name. I am sixty-five now and never saw my real father again after the divorce from my mother.

At some point when I was still young my mother did tell me that my real father had moved to Louisville, Kentucky and had remarried. He had also had a son by that marriage. She knew what was going on in my real father’s life because she was real close to his parents and had a very good relationship with them. Now, whether he fathered other children or not is something I don’t know and will never know. I assume that he is of course probably dead by now.

But, I do have a half-brother somewhere. I never chose to pursue a relationship with my real father, whether possible or not. He never tried to make contact with me so for me that spoke volumes. But to your question….the one thing I have always wanted was to meet and make contact with my half-brother in particular. Or even any other half-siblings. When my mother remarried she had two more daughters with my stepfather who are obviously my half-sisters. To me of course, they are simply my sisters.

So….obviously if it were me, I would want to know. Of course, in my case I know I have a half-brother running around out there somewhere and have known it for some sixty years. In your case the individual has no idea. This then becomes the “important factor” in my opinion. If the unknown half-sibling were deceased, then I think you would have to seriously consider “not telling” him because if it were me I think I would feel cheated that at the least, I never had the opportunity to make a decision or have a choice in the matter. If the half-sibling on the other hand is alive, then I would at least have a choice. I don’t think I would, in the least, be angry with my father for fathering a child out of wedlock. But like many people who are an “only-child”, many often wonder what it would have been like to have a sibling.

In my opinion, if you are going to tell him, it is also very important for you all to have information to some degree on who the sibling is and hopefully how they can be contacted. Otherwise….you will be creating a “hole” in this person’s life that he will not be able to ever fill or address.

These are my personal thoughts on the matter based on my experience as it relates. Hope there is something in all that will help with your and Mr. Kenju’s decision.

Anonymous said...

My first question is does the half-sister know of her half-sibling? If she does, maybe she should be the messenger. If not, then Mr. Kenju has to look for heat from both sides. I personally feel I would like to know about other siblings. If neither know and he does not make this effort, there is a good chance they will never know. At this point it really is not about the father and his past, but about the two children and their families' futures.

Terri said...

Absolutely...he should tell him. And shame on the father for never having done so.
I mean come ON....in this day and age...what's the big deal? He didn't commit a crime. He simply gave in to his passion.
Also...as an only child myself, at age 59, I sure would have liked to know that years ago.
Keep us posted on the outcome.

Jamie Dawn said...

TELL him!!
He should have the opportunity to know her.
How the guy reacts is not up to Mr. Kenju, but I believe that his half-sister's desire to know her family should trump the what ifs.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Kenju should absolutely tell him.

trinamick said...

As someone with half-siblings, I absolutely think he should tell him. However, I'm wondering too if the sister knows anything about it? Did her mother remarry? My half-sister that I was raised with didn't know until she was 13 that my father wasn't hers, and she was devastated. Of course, an adult is better suited to handle it in most cases.

I was not raised with my other half-sister, and though we knew about each other, we didn't meet until a couple of years ago. But that connection is still there. We are now pretty good friends, and I'm very happy that it wasn't kept a secret. She has children that I've gotten to know, and it's been a great experience.

PI said...

It's almost as if the son senses there is something to discover with his questions. I agree with you and think he should be told, in as sensitive a way as possible. If Mr Kenju can't face it maybe...?

Seamus said...

I think the son should be told. It's a shame that it was kept a secret, but the secret should come out now! If it were me I would want to know if I had a sister! :)

Anonymous said...

I tend to believe the son should be told. If it were me, I'd want to know I had a sibling!

Anonymous said...

Both sides need to know about the other. Mr. kenju can ask each of them if it is OK to share addresses etc. Tell, tell, tell. The older got, the more I wanted to know about my family and it's branches. Unfortunately my folks wanted their pasts kept secret and it wasn't until after they were both gone that I was able to find my half sister before she passed away too. In the end, family is all that matters...

Veda said...

Hi Kenju. (not exactly "sent," but from Michele's)

Mother told me at age 8 about her own similar story - I've a half-sister myself. I was too young to be told (I know that now) but Mother's tears in the telling were regarding her own disappointment, disapproval and regret. I'm sure any such person in a situation like that might feel similar things and it may cushion the info for the one asking around.

I think the guy deserves to know, but it is tricky - does anyone know the father's reasons for keeping it to himself for the rest of his life? Or, why he chose to tell the most important woman in his life, but not the most important man? Good luck making this decision.

colleen said...

I think he deserves to know. I think as adults we can accept that our parents were imperfect human beings. I've heard rumors about a child like this in our family, which would be a cousin of mine. I would love to meet him/her no matter what.

Star said...

Wow. A toughie. First of all, I am always for the truth. It is possible that the son will fnd out some other way anyway. You don't say how old the son is. Will he really think less of his father? Kids today see that kind of thing so differently. I actually have a half sister I have had no contact with since I was very little, because of family politics. As a result, I have no siblings. Now it would be too muh trouble to start up a relationship, but I often wonder about her. Do I pass her on the street and not know it? Anyway, assuredly Mr. kenju will take some heat in the shoot the messenger kind of way. But I think it is right to tell the story.

Maya's Granny said...

I would want to know. I think that most people would want to know. And most people understand that mores have changed in the last few decades, so that what might have shamed a person not too very long ago is not even worth mentioning now -- but we still can remember how that shame could keep one quiet.

sage said...

tell him! If he still thinks his dad is a saint, it's time he learn the truth. Otherwise, he'll have a new family member and that should be cherished

rennratt said...

As the neice of a bonus uncle (grandparents separated, grandfather hooked up...grandparents got back together), it was NICE to know that he existed.

I'm not going to lie. It wasn't easy. For my mom or my aunt or my uncles.

My GRANDMOTHER is the one who told.

vicki said...

oh course, of course, of course. It's a part of his history. If he's reasonably mature he'll also be able to appreciate that his father was young, times were different and think about this event as it impacted his father.

I learned something about my mother's early life, after she died. When my stepfather told me some things fell into place and made more sense. I wish I had known sooner.

brendalove@gmail.com said...

He must be told, Judy.

One day after we are all dead and gone, this son (or maybe one of HIS offspring) might face a medical condition such as leukemia or kidney disease that a half-sibling could help.

The medical ethics outweigh protecting the father's reputation.

Anonymous said...

Life is so short and precious, tell him soon.

He might be angry that he wasn't told, but I doubt he'll be angry about his Dad having a child out of wedlock.

utenzi said...

I'd agree with you, Judy. Tell the guy and let the chips fall where they may.

claude said...

I'm coming a bit late with this, but I am catching up with all that blog reading that I haven't done for the last few days.
Here's my two cents. I hate secrets, I think they are sick and often produce lousy side effects. So if it was me, I would tell.

Shephard said...

I think most people would want to know.
Tell him for sure. It's part of his identity.
~S

Granny Annie said...

If Mr. Kenju is close to the young man, he should tell the family story and be supportive of the consequences. If he is not particularly close to the fellow, he should pass on the task of revealing the secret and waiting until someone more involved can share the information. But, yes, the man should know as soon as possible that he has a sibling.

Anonymous said...

Tough noogies is right! He deserves the right to know. About his father's reputation: He ruined that by not being honest, not by impregnating that woman all those years ago. Which is worse? Exactly.

Angie said...

To know something so vital and not tell seems horridly sinful. I would want to know and hang the consequences.