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      Get Smart on the Web   09/16/2016

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How do teenage children cope with finding out their parents are related

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So I posted my story briefly in love stories and I've been torturing myself for the past few days. Suddenly out of the blue I realized that at some point we are going to have to tell our children who in turn may want to tell friends.......we keep the fact that we are 2nd cousins strictly need to know only. Our family know and are fine with it and one friend. Everyone else we mention being vaguely related if it ever arises.

So our children are getting to the point where we will need to tell them in more detail, but I really don't want them to tell their friends. I know some people will judge us and I don't want to lose friends in a situation where I don't feel our background is relevant to our family. So how do I go about being open with the kids without them being open with others (until they can work out who to trust)

And if you are a child with parents who are cousins or 2nd cousins how did you feel/cope when you were told?

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My children were teenagers (16 and 18) when my 1st cousin and I started dating.  One was a little brat about it for a while, the other, in synergy with her personality, took it all in stride.  YOU need to be the one to tell them, and the sooner the better; your families already know and in the course of time, your status as cousins will come up in front of your kids.   It's better for them to hear it from your and/or your husband.  

Approach it lightly;  Have y'all figured out yet that Dad and I are 2nd cousins?

Then see how they respond.  They may not blink an eye.  They may already know.  They may get mad because you have kept it a secret.

The important thing is that you are confident that there is no shame in your relationship with your husband. Second cousins are free to marry anywhere in the world.   No legal, moral, religious or genetic prohibitions are in your way.  If you're not ashamed, most likely neither will your kids be.

As far as keeping the little buggers from telling their friends?  That is an almost impossible mandate to expect of them.  They WILL tell their friends.  But if they are armed with facts (I'm assuming they weren't born with 2 heads or 15 toes) then they will have facts to present to their friends.  This is one of the ways that old wives tales are debunked; friends talking to friends, armed with good information.  Kids are more resilient that we think and to be honest, you are playing into society's prejudices about cousin relationships by letting fear dictate what you do.  Don't give in to the fear!  Now, if you were in a state where cousin marriages/relationships are illegal, then I may have different advice for you.  But assuming that you are in a friendly state, my advice stands.

On a side note, I did reluctantly ask my kids not to tell their father about my relationship with my cousin.  My state is not cousin-friendly and I just didn't want to provide any fodder for drama from him.  And now that cuz and I will be married next month, I'm glad that my kids kept this little secret from their dad.  So, I suppose kids are capable of keeping a secret, but it just seems like an unnecessary burden for them in your situation.  And if you lose friends over this, then I say, "Sayonara".  Are those the types of people you really want in your life?

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Serendipity, thank you so much for your reply and your positive words. It is weird as I really have never felt shame before but as the kids get older I suddenly realized I will have to tell them which means they may tell other people which in turn makes me feel nervous! But I will work through this emotion so I am strong for when the time come round.

We live in Australia where there are no restrictions on cousin marriage.

All the best with your marriage.

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Hi Katie,  Though I am not in your situation with children, I am married to my second cousin.

My thoughts on the situation are that you should start NOW, not wait until the NEED TO KNOW arises. 

As I see it the longer you wait to start introducing the fact to your children the more likely they are to

associate shame and your distrust of them with the information. 

One of the admins, LadyC, always advises starting with the Beatrix Potter story of the bunny rabbits. For shame on me the title has COMPLETELY

evaded me at this moment!!!  (And I feel really dumb!!)  Though it may be a bit young for your children it might be a conversation starter.

Best wishes to you.

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