By Masanda Peter
Like Oprah, Masanda Peter discovered siblings later in life. Here’s what she advises parents.
When I heard of Oprah’s Winfrey’s half sister she recently discovered I wondered about the different emotions she must have gone through. Was it confusion, disappointment, excitement or feeling indifferent at first?
It is not that uncommon to discover that there has siblings one does not know about in families. Perhaps the father made someone pregnant back in the day and only later in life the child will want to be reconciled with the parent. This could be children from a previous wife or husband and contact was lost in the process. Or, as in Oprah’s case, a child who was given up for adoption.
I also have siblings I discovered later in life. The first time we met was a bit weird because I was not sure of how I was supposed to feel and I was a little anxious. I was waiting for the connection and the bond to be there immediately.
With time my siblings and I are getting there. I guess it is one process we cannot rush but we care about each other. We do not call each other often - only once in a while - and so far this seems to suit our relationship.
I have been fortunate because my siblings and I get along. There are cases where children just do not welcome or accept each other. You hear some children saying 'ngumntwana katata wangaphandle komnye usisi' (that is my father’s child from another woman).
Some siblings will try to make contact but get a cold shoulder and you can see the hurt. A friend of mine tried to reach out to her father’s side and was not welcomed at all. She says that all she wanted was to get to know them better and form a relationship with her siblings since they shared a father. After that incident she has vowed to keep to herself. She thinks that perhaps the children thought that she wanted the father to reconcile with her mother which is not the case at all but you can see that she is hurting.
You also hear of people getting into relationships not knowing that they share a parent. Imagine what that could to a person, falling in love with your brother or sister – of course that is going to affect you.
I am often left wondering though why parents cannot be open about these things. Why can’t you tell your children or family that you have children somewhere and get the family together on the matter?
As parents we need to play open cards and be honest with our children - no matter how scary the conversation. These are not the type of things children need to discover on their own or after you have passed on. It is just not fair. Lets us set right examples and be honest.