Author Topic: Tell Them The What. But Do You Tell Them The Why?  (Read 6273 times)

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PastryGoddess

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Re: Tell Them The What. But Do You Tell Them The Why?
« Reply #15 on: January 21, 2013, 05:53:36 PM »
The kids are going to find out.  Its better to have the news come from their parents rather than through gossip. 

From personal experience, I would recommend they start with the fact that they are getting a divorce and what this means for the family before mentioning the affair towards the end of the conversation.  It's helpful for the kids to know exactly whats going to happen rather than have to guess and use their imagination.

katycoo

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Re: Tell Them The What. But Do You Tell Them The Why?
« Reply #16 on: January 21, 2013, 06:01:28 PM »
The answer will always very base don a number of factors.  But with kids those ages, I think they have a right to know.  It will help them cope.

And ideally, the information shoudl be imparted to them when all are present, and Dad should tell them.  He then gets the opportunity to say why he might have had the affair/s but it must be pre-agreed that statements are I statements not s/he statements so that the parents don't get blamey.

Eg.  I felt lonely, we weren't communicating well, we fell out of love or some such.  It would be really really hard and both parents would need to be uber adults about it, but as a kid i'd appreciate the honesty.

RegionMom

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Re: Tell Them The What. But Do You Tell Them The Why?
« Reply #17 on: January 21, 2013, 06:23:21 PM »
saying that mom and dad no longer love each other may not be the truth.  Mom cannot shut off her love just like that, and dad may still love mom, even with the affairs.  And telling a child that love can end...that is a scary thought.

If dad is a good parent, he should be the one to sit down and tell his children that he made some bad choices, and his consequence is that he cannot live with his family anymore.

whether he mentions the affair is his decision, but his girls need to hear that actions nave consequences, and that love does not end.

I never got the "we do not love each other anymore, but we will always love you!"
just not logical.

If parents choose to stay mum on the affair, the girls will speculate, hear gossip and rumors, possibly blame mom for driving dad away, etc...

The girls are old enough to deal with the reality.  no one is perfect, dad made some big mistakes that mom cannot live with, and dad has to leave because he cannot repair the damage he has done now and in the past.  He will be in contact with the girls and follow the rules laid out in divorce court.  he knows the girls will be watching, whatever he tells them.

The why does not need details.  But it is not because mom and dad no longer love each other. 

(I am not a child of divorce, but my dad did die at a young age and mom remarried.  My stepbrother and sis found out years later some lies had been told/omitted and it has caused strain even now with the grandkids.)

Tell the truth, as is age appropriate.  Time will usually win out in the end.  Character is revealed.

sorry this was so long--!!
Fear is temporary...Regret is forever.

TurtleDove

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Re: Tell Them The What. But Do You Tell Them The Why?
« Reply #18 on: January 21, 2013, 06:35:40 PM »
What RegionMom said. I am not a child of divorce either, but the father of my child cheated on me while I was pregnant, and I left him.  She has never known us together, and at age 4 does not know that he cheated and has not asked about why we don't live together.  She sees us getting along and doing things with her, either separately or together.  But when and if she asks, I will tell her why I am not with her dad.  Actually, I will likely not ever have to because he continues to cheat on every "girlfriend" he has so his character will be revealed.  He is a good father.  But I want my daughter to know that she deserves a man who is faithful to her - not like her father.  In a very strange turn of events, he agrees.  "If any man treats DD how I treated you, I will kill him," he has said numerous times, in jest about the killing but not about the sentiment.

cutecupcake

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Re: Tell Them The What. But Do You Tell Them The Why?
« Reply #19 on: January 21, 2013, 06:38:59 PM »
The girls are 15 and 13...they aren't in elementary or nursery school. I think the polite thing would be to tell their daughters why the divorce is occurring otherwise they'll be stuck in the "why" and dealing with that emotional baggage for a long time.

My parents divorced when I was really really young due to an extramarital affair on my father's part, so I know it's hard to hear but in this situation I really do feel that honesty is the best policy. I'd be very very upset if at the age of 15 my parents didn't think that I had the right to know the true reason for the breakup.

I also find that it would be really unkind to the mother to not be able to tell the truth. It puts the marriage ending on two people's shoulders, rather than where it actually belongs...

kudeebee

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Re: Tell Them The What. But Do You Tell Them The Why?
« Reply #20 on: January 21, 2013, 07:02:41 PM »
I think, considering the age of the kids, it would be best for mom and dad to sit down together with them and talk about the divorce, what this will mean as a family and for dad to explain what has happened.  He does not need to go into specifics, just that he made choices and his choices have now affected the marriage.  Mom and dad should get together ahead of time and talk about what will be said, agreeing that there will be no mudslinging, just the facts.

Chances are the kids, at least the older one, has already heard rumors.  It would be better for her to know the truth then be blindsided by comments made by kids at school, ballet practice, etc.

Cami

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Re: Tell Them The What. But Do You Tell Them The Why?
« Reply #21 on: January 21, 2013, 07:03:46 PM »
The girls are 15 and 13...they aren't in elementary or nursery school. I think the polite thing would be to tell their daughters why the divorce is occurring otherwise they'll be stuck in the "why" and dealing with that emotional baggage for a long time.

My parents divorced when I was really really young due to an extramarital affair on my father's part, so I know it's hard to hear but in this situation I really do feel that honesty is the best policy. I'd be very very upset if at the age of 15 my parents didn't think that I had the right to know the true reason for the breakup.

I also find that it would be really unkind to the mother to not be able to tell the truth. It puts the marriage ending on two people's shoulders, rather than where it actually belongs...

I'd add that in my experience, often the party at fault (in this case, via infidelity) seeks to minimize their responsibility by shifting it to the spouse.  I know several people who lied to their children about their responsibility for marriages ending and blamed the spouse while telling the kids to keep quiet about it since, "she's still your mother, so you have to respect her.  No matter what she did to ME. Sniff."

As just one example, my father left my mother when I was 18 and my sister 13. My mother was a "good" person who kept her mouth shut. My father, meanwhile, behind her back told us and everyone else that he had left her because she was "fat" and had "let herself go." Luckily for my mother, these "reasons" were blatantly untrue and because my father was totally arrogant, he thought he was going to be invisible catting around town with women of less than stellar repute. At the strong urging, let's say, of his father, he finally confessed that he had left our mother solely because he wanted to sleep around. Nonetheless, the damage to me and my sister was done. We both have had trust issues with men in our lives and have been afraid that anything less than physical perfection will result in abandonment.  How much better it would have been for us if we had known the truth from the beginning.

TurtleDove

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Re: Tell Them The What. But Do You Tell Them The Why?
« Reply #22 on: January 21, 2013, 07:04:19 PM »
Mom and dad should get together ahead of time and talk about what will be said, agreeing that there will be no mudslinging, just the facts.

This is so important.  Also, Dan cannot hide from the facts or claim Jan is smearing him.  He did that on his own.

Shoo

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Re: Tell Them The What. But Do You Tell Them The Why?
« Reply #23 on: January 21, 2013, 07:09:05 PM »
My husband's exwife cheated on him with their next door neighbor.  They divorced when their daughter was just 7 months old.  She's almost 20 now, and when she was about 14, she asked my husband if her mom had cheated with her stepdad while she was still married to him.  My husband, not wanting to "bad mouth" her mother to her, simply told her that was something she'd need to ask her mom about.  Apparently she did, and her mom lied and told her no, she didn't cheat.  But my stepdaughter figured things out on her own and you know what she did?  She blamed my husband for not telling her the truth when she asked.  And she held it against him for a couple of years.

We assumed her mother filled her ears with all kinds of who knows what, but IMO, if the girls are 13 and 15, then I think they need to be told the truth.

blarg314

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Re: Tell Them The What. But Do You Tell Them The Why?
« Reply #24 on: January 21, 2013, 07:47:42 PM »

Under the circumstances, I'd very, very strongly say that what they really need is a  good family therapist or counsellor with a speciality in divorce and family issues. 

Personally, from an ethical and practical viewpoint, I'd say the children should be told, but they should be told *by the person who had the affair*, in an "I messed up and I'm really sorry" sense.

Otherwise, it's really tricky. If the mother tells them about the affair, they may believe she's lying, particularly if the father denies it.  Or they may believe it, but feel they have to defend their father, who they still love, to/from a naturally angry and hurt mother, or feel they have to reject him to support her, which can damage the parent child relationships for a long time. If custody issues etc go to the courts or mediation, it may be seen as the mother trying to hurt the father and turn the kids against him.

If they don't say anything, at that age, and in this situation (an affair with another kid's mom) there's a good chance they'll find out on their own, and rightly feel betrayed because they found out via gossip rather than being told by the people they should be able to trust.

I would also add that what's being done with the kids now is kind of cruel. They know very well that something is badly wrong in the marriage, and they are being given a brushoff. When, sometime down the road, they find out their worst fears are being right, they will realize that they were being lied to, which can cause extra anger and resentment on top of the fact that their family has just been destroyed.

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Tell Them The What. But Do You Tell Them The Why?
« Reply #25 on: January 21, 2013, 08:03:12 PM »
I've been trying to put into words how I felt about this situation.  But now, I can just say I agree with blarg314.
I have CDO.  It is like OCD but with the letters in alphabetical order, as they should be.
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TurtleDove

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Re: Tell Them The What. But Do You Tell Them The Why?
« Reply #26 on: January 21, 2013, 08:08:54 PM »

Under the circumstances, I'd very, very strongly say that what they really need is a  good family therapist or counsellor with a speciality in divorce and family issues. 
....I would also add that what's being done with the kids now is kind of cruel. They know very well that something is badly wrong in the marriage, and they are being given a brushoff. When, sometime down the road, they find out their worst fears are being right, they will realize that they were being lied to, which can cause extra anger and resentment on top of the fact that their family has just been destroyed.

POD, especially this. My heart just breaks for Jan and the kids.

Slartibartfast

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Re: Tell Them The What. But Do You Tell Them The Why?
« Reply #27 on: January 21, 2013, 08:19:26 PM »
I think my answer would be very different for children who have yet to reach puberty than it would for children who have already experienced hormones firsthand (and presumably have had some basic sex ed by that point too).  Younger children don't understand the difference between lust and love - or for that matter, the difference between "love" between spouses and "love" between a parent and a child or between friends or between a child and her grilled cheese sandwich.  Older children/teens have a much better foundation to understand "Dad and mom still kind of love each other but dad cheated and that's why things are changing."

kherbert05

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Re: Tell Them The What. But Do You Tell Them The Why?
« Reply #28 on: January 21, 2013, 08:53:58 PM »
Family Councilor first make decisions on how much the kids should know with a professional. Do the kid of the other woman know? How much gossip is there in the community. As much as it will hurt them to hear it from Mom and/or Dad (and Dad should admit he made the mistakes) it will be 1,000,000X worse to hear it from the Alpha girl at school.
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LifeOnPluto

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Re: Tell Them The What. But Do You Tell Them The Why?
« Reply #29 on: January 21, 2013, 09:25:49 PM »
I agree that ideally, Dan should be the one to tell the girls why he and Jan are divorcing. But - as other posters have pointed out - the risk is that Dan will seek to minimise his own actions (and possibly shift some of the blame to Jan).

So, if I were Jan, I'd tell the girls "Your father did something that hurt me very much. As a result, I don't trust him any more. But he's still your dad, and he loves you very much." etc.

I wouldn't specifically tell them he had an affair though. I may tell them when they're adults, should they ask me directly.