Should or when should they be told?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-10-2006
Should or when should they be told?
25
Tue, 12-05-2006 - 9:12pm
In the case of a significant happening in the ex-marriage, like being left for an affair partner, or divorcing due to an alchol/drug problem, or some other major instance, should the children ever be told? If so, at what age (teen, adult?) and in how much detail? How about other significant issues with the divorce such as parential aliention sydrome for a short period, or maybe the bio parent voluntarily dropped out of the picture for awhile. Should those absentee time periods ever be pointed out or explained to a curious child by a certain age?

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-01-2003
Tue, 12-05-2006 - 9:25pm

BD tried his darndest for me to get an abortion when I got pregnant. This is something I will NEVER reveal to my DD. Although I may say something like, "It would have seemed 'easier' at the time to have an abortion, I believe it is wrong, and thank God every day that I have you to love", so when she is a teenager facing issues like abortion, she'll have some real world advice.


If she wonders why BD isn't in pictures until she was 6 months, I will tell her that her Dad was scared and didn't know what to do, so he thought it would be best to let me raise you alone, but the second I asked him to be in your life, he came to see you right away, and while he was busy with school and sports for the next few years, he still came to see you when he could.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-10-2006
Tue, 12-05-2006 - 9:37pm
I like how you explain the facts while tryingn to put a favorable slant on it. I happen to agree with you although many don't. My dh's ex wife had an affair and kicked my dh out so her affair partner could move in. She later married him. It's been a huge secret that she had an affair and that her dh was the affair parnter that broke up the marriage. I have been told it would be inappropriate to tell the children this. I think once they are late teens, it should be explained as delicately as possible because I *do* think they have a right to know. It would explain so much to them.
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-19-2004
Tue, 12-05-2006 - 9:41pm

I don't think minor children should be told the reasons for divorce, and generally there is no need to tell adult children either.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-23-2006
Tue, 12-05-2006 - 10:00pm
My marriage ended as a result of an affair. My children were 14, 11, and 7 at the time. I would never have "told" them about the affair, but because they were older, it really wasn't a matter of "telling" them. My oldest pretty much knew from the beginning and the middle one figured it out pretty quickly. While I would not have told them, when they asked, I also would not lie to them. My ex also introduced them to the OW before we were divorced, so it was pretty obvious and there really was no hiding it. I have also been honest with them when they have asked questions regarding other topics... While I strive to not burden them with adult things, as they become young adults and ask questions, I have made a solemn vow to always be honest with them even when it isn't pleasant.
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-19-2004
Tue, 12-05-2006 - 10:23pm

I agree if they figure it out themselves, you don't want to lie.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-23-2006
Tue, 12-05-2006 - 10:49pm
I totally agree.... it is very hard to share the weakness in ourselves with our children. I have always been very open with my children about my mistakes and the things I did that contributed to the fact that their parents are divorced. I came from a family where my mom was very open about everything with me. We made the transition from mother/daughter to best friends until the day she passed away. That has always been my desire for my relationship with my children. The fact that my marriage ended in a bad way doesn't really play a part in my relationship with them. I know that makes little sense to the ones who want to PAS or whose ex is manipulative, but it need not be that way. As I have watched my oldest, a son, move from early teen through the teen years and now into early adulthood, we have forged a relationship that transends the mother/son, parent/child relationship and has moved toward friends. In order to do that, I have shared a lot of what I have learned in my life from successes and mistakes. My being honest with my children does NOT mean it is ever okay to dis their dad....
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Tue, 12-05-2006 - 10:57pm

I do not think children need to be told the reason for a divorce. If they figure it out, then you're in the unenviable position of trying to answer the question without villifying anyone.

I'm on the flip side. DH was completely absent from SD's life for 2 years (2 months to 2 years) because her mother refused to cooperate with the court proceedings. I'm really hoping she doesn't figure out that there is a gaping hole in our pictures of her. It doesn't help a child to have their attention drawn to their parent being missing, regardless of the reason.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-19-2004
Tue, 12-05-2006 - 11:52pm

Yes, and I particularly don't want to be explaining how her father repeatedly rejected me physically, or that we rarely had sex, or that it was always unsatisfying.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 08-03-2006
Wed, 12-06-2006 - 3:18am

This is a difficult one. -If- the child has unresolved issues about something as an adult, then yes.

If its about who cheated on who, that's not a burden that I think should be placed on a minor childs shoulders. Perhaps as adults, if they actually question why the parents had divorced then perhaps. But it would need to be in a more gentle way. Like if the Dad cheated, "well honey Dad just found that he had feelings for someone else, but we are both so grateful that we had you and we never regretted the time we were together because we were so blessed with you and your siblings" maybe less hoakey, but you get the point.

It's not "well your dad (or your mom) went out and BLEEPed a nasty -garden utensil- so we divorced" <-- this is the jist of what my mother told her kids (they were 14 when she and their dad divorced). I was already an adult in my mid to late 20s. This is definitely an example of what NOT to say to a kid.


iVillage Member
Registered: 11-05-2004
Wed, 12-06-2006 - 6:23am
I struggle with this one a lot. My marriage ended due to abuse/alcoholism. The divorce papers are public record and DD could research and find them some day. They don't paint a flattering picture of her father.
I mostly struggle with whether to tell her about her BF's alcoholism, because it is genetic and I think she deserves to know--same as if he had any genetic illness. Since Ex is in serious denial about his problem, he would NOT be happy for DD to be told. Again, his criminal record is public, and she COULD find it herself.
Is it PAS to tell the truth? Is it PAS to tell "your side" after the child is grown and can make her own decisions and form her own opinions? What if the Ex dies? That one strikes me as inherently unfair. No one can refute anything you say at that point. I think I would feel a very strong responsibility to emphasize Ex's positive traits in that instance, while still mainitaining a realistic view of his weaknesss. (Don't want her putting him on a pedestal.)
My Dd has never asked why we divorced!! She was very young at the time, and doesn't remember it. But, also, she seems to just "know." She has made many statements to me about her father's unsuitability for marriage, and hoping he doesn't ever remarry. "You know how my father is." I'm hoping she never pushes for more details.
But I do still struggle with whether/when to tell her about his alcoholism. Ideally, I wish he gets help before she comes of age to be experiment with alcoholic, and can tell his "slippery slope" story himself. But I am probably dreaming.

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