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writing about family secrets

catnav-scrapmoir-active-3Post #89 – Women’s Memoir Writing, ScrapMoir – Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

by Bettyann Schmidt

Telling Family Secrets in Memoir

A family theme may or may not include a family secret, but a family secret is always a family theme, even if nobody talks openly about it. Children may not know the secret, but they learn what’s okay, or not okay to bring up. They unwittingly collude with parental norms set to keep and perpetuate the secret. Often the secret continues because parents feel a sense of shame, the need to protect children and force compliance to a standard set by a previous generation.~ Ruth Zaryski Jackson, from “Memoir Writing: The Power of a Family Secret.”

I was about fourteen when I discovered a family secret. When my younger sister and I found an old photo of a baby we didn’t recognize and presented it to our mother, we knew immediately by Mom’s demeanor that this was a subject not open for discussion. [click to continue…]

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