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How to Ask Your Family Hard Questions
The facts can hurt. You shouldn't act until you acknowledge that, for you, it's worth facing your fears to find the truth.
Don't Assume Anything
Such as, say, that your dad will blow you off if you throw him a curveball question. In order to have a fruitful talk, you'll have to first let down your own guard--and keep an open mind.
Set A Date
Start with one parent and a stress-free setting where you'll have minimal interruptions (a weekend morning walk in the park sans cell phones, for example).
Arrive In Peace
Avoid an accusatory tone. ("I think you've totally screwed me up.") Instead, say you'd be grateful for help--then ask for it outright. ("I've been doing a lot of wondering about certain family history. Can you help me?")
Stick It Out
If you meet push-back, it's possible that there's nothing to uncover, or that your parent is trying to protect you. Beat them to the punch with: "I'll love you no matter what. I just want to better understand this so I can heal myself." (If, however, they get visibly traumatized, press pause and skip to the next step.)
Widen Your Scope
Move on to other sources. Grandparents are often more likely to spill family secrets. If that's not an option, seek out aunts, uncles, cousins, even old family friends. Compile notes so you can later trace patterns.
Video: President Obama & Michelle Obama Answer Kids' Adorable Questions | PEN | People
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