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harple's avatar

How much would you really learn about yourself from meeting a close relation that you've never known? (see details).

Asked by harple (10422 points ) July 28th, 2012

I was listening to something on the radio this morning about someone who was about to meet siblings they never knew they had, and were excited because they didn’t know who they were and felt that this was going to tell them. (I have a similar feeling relating to my deceased father.)

But how much do you think a close relation such as a sibling or a parent that haven’t actually featured in your life (for whatever reason) really impact on who you are?

If the chance to meet those people came up, do you think you would end up realising that the person you are is more formed from the people you actually grew up around?

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8 Answers

syz's avatar

I recently met a half sister for the first time. I wouldn’t say that I learned anything about myself from that meeting, although I was surprised by the number of interests that we had in common.

I did learn an uncomfortable truth about myself in the leadup to that meeting (even posted a question about it her on Fluther). Apparently I have much bigger abandonment issues having to do with my father than I ever realized.

gailcalled's avatar

My sister and I just met a second-cousin once-removed thanks to Fluther.

Four or so years ago, I posted a question here that mentioned my paternal grandfather and his umbrella frame business by name. Someone googled the name and found me via. fluther.

We discovered that his grandmother and my pat. grandfather were sibs. And thus began the
tortuous reconnecting.

Our new cousins are smart, funny, good writers and, in general, delightful. Since I am part of the gene pool, can I extrapolate? Possibly.

@syz; I find what you discovered really compelling. It is really at the root of who you are; I hope that after the realization, you are doing the work. Good for you.

bookish1's avatar

Well, it would be creepy as all hell and probably quite revelatory if I found a full sibling whom I had never met. But other than that, I don’t see how meeting an unknown relative would teach me anything about myself. I’m already quite certain that who I am was highly influenced by the people I grew up around…

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t think it will impact who you are, but relatives will be like you in ways that show you what your family is like. How you are different from most others. You will share certain interests, and certain ways of being. You’ll probably have some similar ways of saying things and similar ways of thinking.

augustlan's avatar

I met my biological father for the first time when I was 18 years old. Meeting him answered a lot of questions I’d had about myself, but not so much about who I was. I figured then, and still do now, that I am who I am due to my life experiences… one of which was NOT knowing my bio-father while I was growing up.

But, after growing up a redhead in a family where I was the only one, I learned that I got my red hair from his side of the family and that I looked a lot like his sister. After having a ton of weird illnesses, I learned that I’d inherited some pretty funky medical issues from them, too. I’d always wondered what my childhood would have been like if I’d been raised by my father as opposed to my mother, and when I met my half-brother a short time later, I got answers about that, too. It was a very illuminating relationship, and one I’ve never regretted pursuing.

marinelife's avatar

I think you would see a surprising number of things you had in common from genetics, but you would see as much that was different about you.

Genetics plays a surprisingly big role in our personalities—more than we would like I suspect.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I met my half siblings and biological father when I was a teen. Like others posted, I was surprised by similarities, mannerisms, stuff like that but it didn’t morph who I was at the time. My siblings who had always known so much more about me, they were very emotionally affected. We all agree, how we came to be most definitely shaped how we chose to form relationships with partners and children.

noraasnave's avatar

I found out two years ago that I have a half-sister from my Father’s first marriage. Her appearance has had a underwhelming but telling affect on everyone in my family. I have enjoyed talking with her and have benefited from the exchanges.

Her ‘appearance’ has also revealed a bit about my parents, who have displayed startling indifference to her. She is my Father’s dirty little secret, now that he is a Pastor and didn’t tell his current church that he has been divorced or that he has a daughter.

If I desired to cause my parents great problems I could anonymously call/mail a letter to their church. I am too old to be a troublemaker and am generally trying to get along with my parents.

Back to the question: My life has been enriched by my ‘new’ sister. She has been a source of encouragement.

I like your second question. I think the people who are in our lives form a hole, in which that missing person fits if they were here. My sister answered a lot of questions about my parents for me. Something was missing from my parent’s story, something I can now detect, that I couldn’t then. My Dad was a dead beat dad, and for all intents and purposes still is to his 40 year old daughter. So, Yes, my sister coming into my life supports the question that everyone else represented her ‘hole’ in their behavior.

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