An interview with psychologist, researcher and author, Diane Ehrensaft about the psychological experience of parenting children conceived through the assistance of a donor. Diane describes the challenges parents face in coping with “genetic assymetry” between the parents, and fears that disclosing to the child will undermine the bonding with the non-biological parent. Diane also speaks of the challenges for the child who may experience, “genealogical bewilderment” if the donor is anonymous, and their own need to establish a sense of identity and belonging. Diane affirms the value of open discussion in families that decrease the potential shame and ultimately affirm the deep bonds that parents have with their children.
An interview with author, adoptee and clinician, Joyce Maguire Pavao about parenting an adopted child. Joyce describes the changing demographics of adopted children, and how adopted children are increasingly older and may have experienced trauma as well as the loss of their birth family. Joyce asserts that “adoption doesn’t fix anything, ” and that each member of the adoptive relationship will still need to grieve their losses. She describes ways that families can honor the birth family and reassures parents that their child will not be confused about who their parents are, because they know so well who has raised them. Joyce describes the importance of early disclosure to adopted children about their own origins, and also tells her own story of finding and reconnecting with her birth family, with the support of her parents.
An interview with family therapist and author Evan Imber-Black about how to tell a family secret thoughtfully and well. In contrast to televised and sensationalist secret telling in front of mass audiences, Dr. Imber-Black works with families to prepare carefully before revealing important secrets. She tells stories from her work about the impact of secrets on family members, creating ever widening circles of silence and distance in relationships. She describes the impact on children who may not know a secret, but whose behavior is nonetheless deeply effected by the silence. She advises an individual analysis of each family member who may be effected by revealing a secret and how to respect those who may not want it revealed.
An interview with author and social psychologist, Jamie Pennebaker about his research into the benefits of confiding painful experiences. Jamie discovered that childhood traumas resulted in far greater long term health and psychological difficulties if they were not confided in others. He suggests that one of the reasons that childhood sexual abuse may be so destructive, is because it is so often kept secret. He describes experiments where people are invited to write for 20 minutes each day for four days about their most emotionally troubling experience. In study after study, the writers who are able to explore the depth of their emotions and express different perspectives on the event tend to show health benefits years after the experiment. He also describes new research into how our unknowing use of pronouns in speech reveals a great deal about our personalities, preferences and relational compatibility.