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What to tell adult children

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Lisa2You posted 7/30/2013 13:59 PM

Hi. Here's just a short rundown of the background; H had affair when I was pregnant with our youngest child. I didn't know about it until about 6 years later. We've done the counseling route etc. A few nights ago, we talked and decided to separate/divorce. It's very amicable so far. My children are 18, 24, and 28. We just had our first (beautiful!) grandchild two weeks ago from the 28 year old. None of my kids are married or seriously involved with anyone.

I really have no idea what my children think. For the last 8-10 years, my h and i have just been married room mates - room mates that don't like each other all that much. We're not violent or screaming banchees (probably part of the problem). We just nitpick things to death. I have no respect for him or his opinion on most things. I hate the way he treats our children - his conditional love for them. He's very negative about our kids. An example is that his family and friends only hear the struggles they have. He fails to mention or talk up (as I do) that his daughter is on the Deans List and maintained a 3.9 gpa through a high risk pregnancy etc. His son opened a very successful personal training business - all his father focuses on is that he doesn't have health care. It's crap like that.

OK, so that's the brief (?)history. Here are my questions;
1. Is it better if we use a "separation" as the first step? Will that settle better with our kids?
2. How much do we tell them? If they say, why? what do we say?
3. Although their father is very negative, he's been a good father. He was involved in every aspect of their lives from diaper changes and midnight feedings, to attending every single baseball game or dance recital. I don't want to further damage their relationship, but if they ask about the affair, do I tell them? I hate keeping secrets, as I have for so many years.

I really hope someone has good advice. He will be moving out sometime in the next 6 weeks. That brings up another question - when should we have this talk with them.

Thanks so much! ~L

h0peless posted 7/30/2013 14:05 PM

Your kids are adults and they almost certainly know more than you think. You don't have to volunteer any information that you don't want to but you should answer any questions they have honestly.

Amazonia posted 7/30/2013 14:10 PM

I'm 29. If my parents were to get a divorce, I would want to know why.

Lisa2You posted 7/30/2013 14:11 PM

Thanks for the response. Being the keeper of the secrets definitely took it's toll on me and I certainly don't want to continue with that. It's just hard to balance information with what might hurt them in the long term. You know? ~L

Lisa2You posted 7/30/2013 14:13 PM

Amazonia - That's good to know. If I'm really honest with myself - there are many reasons, not just the affair. I was only 19 when I got married...I went one direction, and he went another, for example. Thank you! ~L

h0peless posted 7/30/2013 14:14 PM

Just to add to my point above, I was 17 when my parents divorced. I knew about my Mom's LTA with the pastor, even if nobody told me about it. I knew about my dad's affair with some crazy woman he met at his high school reunion. (he told me about it.)

When you do talk to your children about it, please be as factual as possible. My parents played the "pick me" game with my siblings and I and it was incredibly damaging, especially to my siblings who were 11, 13 and 15 at the time. My Dad especially damaged his relationship with my sisters and it hasn't really recovered in the 15 years or so since.

Lisa2You posted 7/30/2013 14:23 PM

H0pless - Thanks for the clarification. I'm sure you're right - they know more than I imagine. My daughter hung out with a friend of hers that has a connection to the OW in a roundabout way. Also, my 24-year old son has said many times, "Why do you and Dad stay together?" So, for them at least, there are clues that they are aware of problems. Thanks again! ~L

Phoenix1 posted 7/30/2013 15:13 PM

They are adults. Don't lie and don't evade the truth. They will resent you for it if you do. Finally telling my kids the sordid truth was a huge relief because, like you, I kept the secrets for years to protect them. All of them have expressed gratitude for my honesty, my willingness to treat them like adults, and they have all said so many things make much more sense now. My POS was a good father too, but all the kids have lost all respect for him because he has the morals of an alley cat. They see him as the hypocrite that he is. His choices are his cross to bear though, as is the impact it has had on their relationship. It makes me sad, but there is nothing I can do about it, and he should have thought about how his actions would be perceived by his children BEFORE he decided to violate his wedding vows.

Lisa2You posted 7/30/2013 18:12 PM

Thank you. I know you're right. It is indeed sad - so sad I don't want to think about it. But I'm trying to do what is least painful for them. Maybe I don't even know what that is anymore.

I wonder now, if telling them all together is the right thing to do. Knowing their personalities, I'm just not sure. But then again, I don't want them to have the "They told so-and-so first" thing. I do think my oldest can handle it and will help a lot with the other two. But I just don't know. We will separate in 6-8 weeks. I also wonder if I should tell them right now, before we move away from each other? I'm full of questions, but not answers. LOL Story of my life lately. ~L

Phoenix1 posted 7/30/2013 18:31 PM

There is no easy way to tell them, and you know their personalities best as to whether they should be together or not. I told mine separately, but that was more due to circumstances than any conscious planning on my part. DS20 was the last to know and I had to tell him over the phone (he's military). He was devastated to find out the extent of his father's actions, whom he had on a pedestal. I told him I was sorry to be the bearer of the news but there was no easy way to tell him. He agreed there was no easy way for me to have told him, and he understood the bad position it put me in. He did need several days to be left alone to process it all, so be prepared to give them space. That was one of the most difficult conversations I have ever had, but it needed to be done.

Good luck. It is a sucky conversation to have. I have received nothing but support from them since.

devistatedmom posted 7/30/2013 18:46 PM

I'd tell them before Lisa. They don't want the "shock" afterwards. Call them or go visit or whatever, and tell them the general outline...your dad and I are sep in 6 weeks. Your dad had an affair 18 years ago, and things have just gotten worse and worse since. I want to try to reclaim my life, and have happiness from here on in."

Then answer questions. You may be surprised. They may just ask you what took you so long. Good luck.

Lisa2You posted 7/30/2013 18:58 PM

Pheonix1 - Your words give me strength to do what I feel is right. I'll tell my oldest first. Very soon after, I'll tell the other two. I'm trying so hard to do what's right for them, that I think I'm not trusting that I know them well. One issue this whole thing has brought up is that I don't trust my intuitive sense. He had an affair for a whole year and I had no clue (truly!). I would never in a million years thought he'd be the "type" to do that. I've lost faith in my own discernment. I hate that. I used to be so sure of my own actions and judgements. Now I question myself at every turn. I guess it will take a while to get it all back. Afterall, though the affair was a long time ago, I've never been able to speak with anyone about it, so for me, it's as if it just happened.

Anyway, thanks!

Devistated - Thanks for this. Kinda like my comment above, I do feel like sooner is better than later. I'm very close to my daughter, and also afraid I might slip and say something. Plus, she knows me. It's entirely possible she's already sensed something. The only reason she wouldn't have, is that she just had a baby. What a beautiful distraction for us all! Anyway (again), thanks so much! ~L

Mousse242 posted 7/30/2013 20:49 PM

How about the truth. They are adults.

kernel posted 7/30/2013 21:14 PM

I think you should tell them as soon as possible. I don't think you have to go into great detail initially but you should answer any questions honestly. It sounds like they won't be surprised.

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