Friday, November 09, 2007

Graham Swift's Book "Tomorrow" - Disclosure as Fodder for Fear

I have posted about the book “Tomorrow” before but after reading the NYT book review today I am concerned that the book's theme of fear only strengthens individual arguments not to tell denying young adults and all donor conceived individuals the right to the truth of who they are. It appears also to maginalize a DI Dads contribution and gives the children the right to push their social fathers away upon learning the truth.

What's wild is that according to the reviewer the mother paints a picture of a happy loving family where there is strongly bonded relationship between the twins and their dad, their father.

“Listen to your father, he’s got something important to say,” she says. “And then he’ll be nobody, he’ll be what you make of him. If you want, you can even tell him to leave.”

What struck me was the mother's statements that while truthful if fact that telling may affect their relationship with their father and that they, the children, have the right after learning the truth to tell him to go away. This man for all purposes is their father despite the biological link. To give these children, in this case young adults, permission to cast this man out only serves to heighten fears and is not based in reality.

If my children were to react in shock at learning at 16 this news I would certainly give them space to process this info and even understand the immediate resentment which could follow but as a father I would never submit to being told to leave. My children are my children and I would expect to continue to care for them as a father and to help them in any way I could. In short I expect I would fight to retain their love.

As I have not read the book I can't say why this couple waited until the children were 16 as it seems almost the worst age range to tell. Teenagers already have enough going on that to add this issue seems cruel.

Based on what I understand to be the fears of the mother it sounds like she should have joined the UK Donor Conception network and read the how to tell pamphlets before she got all worked up compounding her fears which surely will be felt by her children possibly introducing two new emotion into their young lives, embarrassment and shame, for an act that they had no control over.


Bea said...

Good point, well made.


Unknown said...

"And then he’ll be nobody, he’ll be what you make of him."

How... sensational. The melodrama practically drips off of that quote.

If I told my dad to leave, after all he's done for me, just because of my conception... I'd fully expect to be picking my teeth up from the floor. Not that my dad is a particularly violent man, but I think anyone should floor their kid if that kid is truly that ungrateful.

Don't worry about it, Eric. Really.

DI_Dad said...

Ryan - Thanks. I agree wholeheartedly that the author is playing up the melodrama and I can not believe any mom to be this nuts but I wonder more about how these words reinforce the sterotypes and stigmas based on how the author has drawn this character. - Eric

Unknown said...

I agree with your concerns. I can tell from that one quote that it's not a very well written story (In my world, melodrama = poorly written) and hopefully it'll slide right under the radar and into obscurity.

However, I will note that my mother is just about that insane. She feels that since we kids "aren't related" to our dad, we should automatically default to viewing her as the favorable parent, despite her multitude of flaws. Heh. Her flawed thinking on this issue is one reason why I prefer my Dad.