Author Topic: Tell Them The What. But Do You Tell Them The Why?  (Read 6681 times)

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lkdrymom

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Re: Tell Them The What. But Do You Tell Them The Why?
« Reply #30 on: January 21, 2013, 09:33:06 PM »
This divorce is going to turn the lives of these kids upside down. They have every right to know EXACTLY why their lives are being disrupted. 

I lived this story.  While I tried not to bad mouth the ex I sure as heck did not make excuses for him.  I also had to make it age appropriate as the kids were quite young.

WillyNilly

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Re: Tell Them The What. But Do You Tell Them The Why?
« Reply #31 on: January 21, 2013, 09:44:51 PM »
My answer varies so much, especially reading all the previously made points.

I was 14 when my parents were finally divorced, separate households etc. i was not told any specifics, but then I didn't really question it - there had abeen a few yeas of constant fighting and coldness leading up to it. I would not have wanted to know something that specific though, as it stands i think both my parents had specific issues and share blame to the fall of their marriage. 

What I wanted to know most honestly, was how it all affected me. All kids, even teens need to hear its not their fault and they are loved. Kids need to know, what does this mean as far as living situations, will they have to move, change schools, will their weekends be disrupted, etc.  Kids want to know what will happen with holidays.  Kids want to know if this will affect their parent's ability to pay for college, or driver's ed.  Kids want to know if the annual family vacations will continue. Kids want the answers to a lot of questions - ones parents might not have the answers to right away. But regardless, the kids do have a right to know the stuff that affects them, even if at first its a "don't worry, we will make this as painless for you as possible", and if they are teens, maybe even be consulted on some things.

And I think once those kinds if issues are addressed, the kids will back off on asking too many questions about the specific relationship stuff; right now these teens have a million questions and concerns, probably more then they can even sort out or verbalize and sounds like their getting vague answers.  The parent child relationship is a separate relationship then the spouse spouse relationship, and not every thing needs to be shared between them, and each relationship has its own quirks to be attended to.

gramma dishes

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Re: Tell Them The What. But Do You Tell Them The Why?
« Reply #32 on: January 21, 2013, 11:34:19 PM »
...

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.
...
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.  ...

I agree with this.  They are old enough to be told the reason (and far better to be told by the parents than to hear it at school through the inevitable gossip -- and that WILL happen). 

Dad should phrase his 'explanation' to his children pretty much exactly as RegionMom suggests.

kudeebee

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Re: Tell Them The What. But Do You Tell Them The Why?
« Reply #33 on: January 21, 2013, 11:37:02 PM »
i think it would be much better to hear it from the parents than to be blindsided at school or elsewhere.  Because you know it is the talk of the moment in some families and other kids will hear and know.  And, kids being kids, they will tell the daughters or snicker or talk about them behind their backs.  The daughters will find out and may resent their parents for not being honest with them, especially given their ages.

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Re: Tell Them The What. But Do You Tell Them The Why?
« Reply #34 on: January 21, 2013, 11:56:31 PM »
At those ages, they need to know something is up and the reasons as to why the parents are getting divorced. The parents need to do this together in order for their children to understand that Mom and Dad aren't going to be together anymore.

Personally if it were me, and I was at that age, I would rather know sooner rather then later. There already has been enough lies already.

Bethalize

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Re: Tell Them The What. But Do You Tell Them The Why?
« Reply #35 on: January 22, 2013, 04:36:52 AM »
I'd tell the truth. I've never heard anyone say "I wish my parents hadn't told me the truth". Most people aren't good enough actors and liars to hide their feelings. Mixed messages and confusing things that aren't obviously action/consequence related are more upsetting to a child than knowing that their parents make bad choices.

Having said that, I would make sure that my children were never, ever put in a position of feeling they needed to protect me  or assume the parent role in any way.  However, the truth is that a married parent who leaves their spouse for another partner is putting their needs at least equal first with those of their children, and the responsibility for that cannot be shirked.

Winterlight

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Re: Tell Them The What. But Do You Tell Them The Why?
« Reply #36 on: January 22, 2013, 09:00:38 AM »
I think at that age they need to know what's going on from their parents, preferably during counselling, before they find out from their classmates or someone in ballet.
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Re: Tell Them The What. But Do You Tell Them The Why?
« Reply #37 on: January 22, 2013, 09:33:13 AM »
I agree with the majority of posters here - saying nothing about the affair is probably going to be damaging in the long term. The kids are clearly aware something is wrong, and will be trying to figure out the why for themselves. Without full information, they may conclude "Mom suddenly turned into a bitter, resentful person, and she drove Dad away," or hear something even more lurid at school and give it credence.
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Snooks

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Re: Tell Them The What. But Do You Tell Them The Why?
« Reply #38 on: January 22, 2013, 09:43:53 AM »
They're going to find out eventually, even if it's ten years from now.  Also, if he plans on carrying on the relationship they'll probably put two and two together.  Personally, I think they're old enough to know about this affair, maybe leave the other ones out purely because they've got enough to deal with realising their dad did this to their mom once let alone multiple times.

Yvaine

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Re: Tell Them The What. But Do You Tell Them The Why?
« Reply #39 on: January 22, 2013, 10:01:11 AM »
I think at that age they need to know what's going on from their parents, preferably during counselling, before they find out from their classmates or someone in ballet.

Yeah, the fact that the mistress is a peer's parent means they will find out. Either other kids will tell them, or they'll just be surprised one day when they go over to Dad's house and their friend's mom is there as his girlfriend. Darned if I know how to broach the subject, though.

bopper

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Re: Tell Them The What. But Do You Tell Them The Why?
« Reply #40 on: January 22, 2013, 10:06:17 AM »

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.

I also agree that they should to to a family therapist.
If they do choose to tell them, they should do it at an age appropriate level.
Also the person who had the affair should be the one to tell them...they need to know that there actions have consequences that the affair affects the children.

Snooks

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Re: Tell Them The What. But Do You Tell Them The Why?
« Reply #41 on: January 22, 2013, 10:07:26 AM »
I think at that age they need to know what's going on from their parents, preferably during counselling, before they find out from their classmates or someone in ballet.

Yeah, the fact that the mistress is a peer's parent means they will find out. Either other kids will tell them, or they'll just be surprised one day when they go over to Dad's house and their friend's mom is there as his girlfriend. Darned if I know how to broach the subject, though.

At least if the parents tell them they won't find out the way some of the kids at my school did, with the husband of the woman their dad was having an affair with coming over to their house and kicking the (locked) door of the room their dad was in open.

camlan

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Re: Tell Them The What. But Do You Tell Them The Why?
« Reply #42 on: January 22, 2013, 10:44:28 AM »
I think at that age they need to know what's going on from their parents, preferably during counselling, before they find out from their classmates or someone in ballet.

Yeah, the fact that the mistress is a peer's parent means they will find out. Either other kids will tell them, or they'll just be surprised one day when they go over to Dad's house and their friend's mom is there as his girlfriend. Darned if I know how to broach the subject, though.

This.

My brother and SIL divorced last year, in large part due to her affair with a neighbor. They didn't tell the kids, (14 & 16) about the affair, and I suspect, from what the kids have said, that my ex-SIL tried to put all the blame on my brother for the divorce. And while I'm sure my brother shares some of the blame for the problems in the marriage, ex-SIL can't be entirely blameless, either.  It only took a few weeks before the kids were asking why "Sam" was over all the time and why Sam and his wife "Alice" were getting divorced so soon after Mom and Dad. The 16 year old guessed about the affair within a month of the divorce being final.

My ex-SIL  has physical custody of the kids, but they really want to live with their dad and not have to see Sam all the time. There's a lot of anger and bitterness towards their mom at this point. My brother's now got the kids in family counseling and it's helping, but it's going to be a long time before the kids reach a new "normal."

So while I don't think the kids need to hear every single gory detail, I do think they should get the basic facts, including the affair. Otherwise they will be guessing and imagining all sorts of things that could be worse than the reality.
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Winterlight

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Re: Tell Them The What. But Do You Tell Them The Why?
« Reply #43 on: January 22, 2013, 01:13:35 PM »
I think at that age they need to know what's going on from their parents, preferably during counselling, before they find out from their classmates or someone in ballet.

Yeah, the fact that the mistress is a peer's parent means they will find out. Either other kids will tell them, or they'll just be surprised one day when they go over to Dad's house and their friend's mom is there as his girlfriend. Darned if I know how to broach the subject, though.

Yikes, I hadn't thought of that. Good point.

I think the broaching needs to be done with both parents there and preferably a family counselor to mediate.
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Five things observe with care,
To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where.
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cicero

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Re: Tell Them The What. But Do You Tell Them The Why?
« Reply #44 on: January 22, 2013, 02:00:19 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.
this.

and like yesterday. the kids are aware that something is going on and they need to know what that is.

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