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To tell or not to tell adult child

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betrayedme2 posted 10/22/2013 09:05 AM

My dday was about nine months ago. Unfortunately my 16, now 17 yo daughter was at ground zero and knows EVERY nasty detail about my wife's affair. She even knew the man and thought he was a friend. My wife brought him in to my youngest daughters life. My wife said they were friends for 7 years, but the PA going for 5 years. Even though my daughter would have been just 9 when first introduced, through the years I kind of think my daughter knew what was going on as this mans name was never mentioned to me by either of them. That's another issue I have for another post some day. How my wife could not only betray me, but bring my daughter in on the betrayal.

But anyway, my question right now is concerning my other daughter who is now 21 and away at college. She was at school when the bomb dropped. Since, she's been home for several breaks. It was no secret we didn't have a perfect know...and she knows something happened and she knows her sister knows something. She asked once and was upset that her sister knew something and that we weren't telling her everything. My oldest daughter also knows nothing of this scum bastard. My oldest daughter would have called a spade a spade and ruined it for her.

My wife and I discussed telling our older daughter, but finally decided not to. We're trying to reconcile. If we tell her, we KNOW she will not take it well and disown her mother, which will make our R nearly all but impossible. My daughter will be crushed. I fear she'll also hate me for not telling her. The only people who know in our family is our youngest daughter and my wife's mother. I really doubt it'll come out unless my wife and I bring it out. I worry how it effect her, her school work, and her perspective on relationships. She's at a very competitive school, and one bad paper, one poor quiz, and it's impossible to catch up.

So, any thoughts on to tell or not to tell?

MovingUpward posted 10/22/2013 09:22 AM

I worry how it effect her, her school work, and her perspective on relationships. She's at a very competitive school, and one bad paper, one poor quiz, and it's impossible to catch up.

The same thing could be said about the effects of not telling her. She knows something is up. She knows that her sister knows something that she doesn't.

You cannot control her reaction if you tell her, but the manner in which it is told to her will go a long way in how your DD accepts it. If you and your wife approach her together and allow your wife to tell, to express her fears of DD's reaction, to apologize, and then together to ask her for her help and support of the path the two of you are choosing.

And maybe if she is between terms over winter break that would allow you to tell her and then if she need a counselor to process stuff then you'd have time to help her out.

With one DD knowing and the other not and with their ages, if I was in your shoes I would be thinking that I needed to share. I am not sure where I would have stood if I was in your shoes but neither DD knew. JMO

sodamnlost posted 10/22/2013 09:28 AM

She knows something is up - you not Telling her is a betrayal. I get that it's complicated with how she will respond to WS but isn't that the same justification WS's use when lying to their BS after Dday?

madsadalone posted 10/22/2013 09:33 AM

I have three adult children. My oldest knew(girl)she was visiting when shit hit the fan. I asked that she not tell her brothers what was going on, to spare them...

Well, things went down hill rapidly and I left and went to Fl for awhile, they called me asked was going on, I told them that it was nothing I wanted to discuss over the phone, talk to their father, he caused this mess. He lied.

I ended coming home and having a family meeting with all my kids and telling them the truth. Turns out my youngest knew of WH's online life and had been keeping it a secret with my WH, DS stated that he valued his relationship with his father more than his relationship with me, as I was his mom and mom's love their kids regardless...

My point, all of my adults kids knew something was amiss.

They were more angry with me,
that I had been struggling and hiding my emotions around them than being honest.

I vote for telling her and being there to guide her. But most of all let her purge her hurt, anger, disgust, etc to your WW, then work to rebuild that relationship.

tushnurse posted 10/22/2013 09:47 AM

First of all I seriously doubt that your younger daughter did not share what is really going on with her. I know my kids keep no secrets, and even though they act like they hate each other, they have a strong bond that runs very deep, and would have them sacrificing their lives for the other. So if one of mine knew they both would.

Now if she really doesn't know, but she does know there is turmoil, I really think you are doing a diservice to her to not share what is going on. You want her to think that keeping secrets, and being conflict avoidant is a normal marriage? It's not.
wouldn't you rather share with her that bad things happen, and life is hard, but through hard work, and sacrifice you can make it through just about anything, and come out stronger.
She may be mad at her mom, but in the end if your wife is doing the hard work of R she will respect her even more for what she has done.

neverdidithink posted 10/22/2013 09:50 AM

Tell her. Keeping her in the dark when it's obvious something is wrong is unfair. Asking your younger daughter to keep this secret has to be incredibly painful for her.

Most of us here have said at one time or another that the secrets and lies were worse that the actual betrayal. Please think about that with regards to your daughters and the effects of the lies and secrets for them.

betrayedme2 posted 10/22/2013 10:22 AM

Thanks everyone!!

I'm very sure she doesn't know. My youngest wouldn't have said anything and if she had, we'd know. I'm positive on that.

Maybe I'm rationalizing not tell my oldest.
1. She'll never forgive her mother.
2. It'll make R impossible.
3. It'll hurt her school, even with one term left after winter break and little time for meaningful counseling.
4. When it comes to relationships, she really hasn't had much experience and lacks confidence. She's a beautiful girl with brains and coming from a smaller, rural community, she scared all the local boys. And her college is so so competitive, that while students there may "hook up", there are few actual relationships. I'm worried that it'll even make her cautious with relationships.
5. She only asked the one time what was up, then dropped it. This was about 4-5 months ago.

I really appreciate the advice. I feel guilty for not telling her. BTW, my wife says it's my decision. She's supportive either way. At this point in the R, I'm really afraid if we tell her, it'll put us back many steps. Selfish I know.

Feeling guilty, selfish, and uncertain...

LivinginLimbo posted 10/22/2013 10:24 AM

None of our adult children know as they don't live with us.

While my situation is different, I was "the youngest teenaged daughter" embroiled in my parent's mess. My older sister knew things were amiss, but she didn't live home and have to deal with it on a daily basis. When I tried to talk to my parents about it, I was told it had nothing to do with me. I eventually had a nervous breakdown and spent two months in the county psych ward.

This is a burden that no child, at any age, should carry. I also was told not to speak about it. You're making her play a part in this that, just like a BS, was not of her making.

I encourage you to, at the very least, get her into counseling. You have no idea how conflicted she is. By protecting your oldest, you're sending the message that her feelings are more important than those of her younger sibling.

My heart breaks for your daughter.

betrayedme2 posted 10/22/2013 10:59 AM

Livinginlimbo, My youngest daughter is most upset about the possibility of D. She has friends of D parents and she's so afraid that her mother and I will split. This is what causes her great pain. My wife has broke the NC rule several times. While we tried not to argue in front of my youngest, she still knew when things were amiss. Fortunately, she has hope, as I do. She did go in for several sessions of IC. The counselor said she's got a really good grip and really only needed to see her when my daughter feels like talking. My daughter knows she can see the counselor ANY time she wants for ANY reason. I would doubt the counselor, but she's highly regarded in this area for adolescents. In fact, when I went to see an attorney for advice, she was so glad that we found this particular counselor. My youngest daughter knows she is loved and that we would do ANYTHING for her. Heck, it it weren't for her, I'd be single now. Don't get me wrong, I love my wife and willing to fight for R, but no single person in their right mind would accept what we have to accept. IMHO anyway. I believe she knows we're not putting anyone's feelings before hers. It was terrible timing on how dday happened. I so wish she could have been spared. It's an open topic for the three of us, which is why I'm so conflicted with my oldest daughter, among the other items I mentioned. Please believe me, if I even suspected, questioned, doubted, or anything for my daughter, I would go to the ends of the earth to make whatever happen for her. She has a good counselor. If D ever gets on the table again, my daughters counselor will know before my wife!

We didn't tell my daughter not to talk about it. She was part of the conversation about whether or not to tell our oldest-sorry for not mentioning it sooner. In fact, we told her that she could talk to anyone about it. School counselor, friends, her sister, other family, anyone. While she loves her sister, I wouldn't say they're extremely close. Sad, I know. They're simply different people. She even mentioned that her sister wouldn't be able to handle it as well as she could. AGain, with my youngest, it's the fear of D parents, split households, and everything that goes with it that she's afraid of. People who have affairs don't seem to think about how many other people are affected by their actions. Make me sick for my family.

I hope this adds some clarity?
My oldest won't be home until right before Christmas. Just one more thing to think about, timing. some Christmas present huh?

sparkysable posted 10/22/2013 11:09 AM

Definitely tell her. Her soul knows something is wrong, and her brain is searching for it. Tell her and give her some peace.

SisterMilkshake posted 10/22/2013 11:35 AM

I feel it is rather cruel to keep your oldest daughter in the dark due to the fact she knows that everyone else in the family knows a family secret but her. The feelings she must have about being left out. That she can't be trusted, that she isn't part of the family, that she doesn't matter, is what I think I would be feeling in your DD21's shoes.

I understand your concern for your DD21.

I fear she'll also hate me for not telling her.
The thing with family secrets, they come out sooner or later. Why walk around with this hanging over your head? If neither of your DD's knew, this wouldn't be an issue, but since the younger one does the older one really needs to know. From you and your wife. Don't put it on your younger DD to maybe one day spill the beans.

The consequences of your wife's actions are a domino effect. Once they make that choice to betray those domino's can not be held back. You may know that your DD21 will not take it well, but, really you don't know how anyone will act in any particular situation. Trust your DD21 and treat her with respect. She is an adult. If you explain it to your DD21 that you are working on reconciliation and want to make your marriage work and want to be an intact family she maybe more receptive to your wife than you feel she may be.

If your DD did indeed disown your wife why would that end reconciliation?

MC_Jack posted 10/22/2013 11:59 AM

As Sister stated, it is cruel to keep secrets like that...

I really do not agree at all with the premises behind not being honest.

1. She'll never forgive her mother.

^^How can you really know that? Anyways, that would be her choice and a lack of forgiveness would be on her then, not you or the M. Plus your WW can do a LOT to earn that foregiveness. I told my DD (18), she is 'over it' but still hasn't forgiven yet. My WW probably has not enough yet to earn it. But that is up to them. Again, what is really going on is that you want to rescue your WW. I think it would be good for your WW to see the disappointment in her daughter's eyes.

2. It'll make R impossible.

^^^ That makes absolutely no sense. So you are saying that your WW will not reconcile if she has to face consequences? or if things are 'hard'? What could possibly be the link between R and keeping a sick secret? You are basically condoning secrecy by the way as a means of coping.

3. It'll hurt her school, even with one term left after winter break and little time for meaningful counseling.

^^^If she is in college, she has plenty of things to distract her already. Again, your WW affirming her committment to the M, working on herself, showing remorse will address any anxiety your DD might have.

4. When it comes to relationships, she really hasn't had much experience and lacks confidence. She's a beautiful girl with brains and coming from a smaller, rural community, she scared all the local boys. And her college is so so competitive, that while students there may "hook up", there are few actual relationships. I'm worried that it'll even make her cautious with relationships.

^^^ Caution is always good. Irrational fear is bad. Doesn't sound like the environment is one that promotes intimate relationships anyways. She can focus on grades. You can counsel he on relationships and be a role model.
5. She only asked the one time what was up, then dropped it. This was about 4-5 months ago.

^^^ So you lied once, now you are lying by omission. You don't have to provide details of course.

Bottom line: healthy relationships are based on honesty. What are you modeling? Especially when she finds out from her sister 10 years from now...

betrayedme2 posted 10/22/2013 13:16 PM

Thanks everyone. I guess I knew the answer when I posted....

MC Jack, you sure you're not a counselor?

You are all right. It's a terrible secret to keep especially when one knows and the other doesn't.

hitbyatruck posted 10/22/2013 14:00 PM

I knew all about my father's affairs starting at around age 12. I wish I didn't know as much as I did.

I would normally say not to expose all to the kids no matter what the age but since one of yours already knows you should tell.

Please don't assume how your older daughter will react. I know all the good, bad, and ugly about my Dad AND he is still my Dad. Infact he is still one of my most favorite people.

karmahappens posted 10/22/2013 14:07 PM

Tell her, before someone else does.

Thats what happened to us. It was devastating.

You can tell her with love and caring, you can answer her questions, help her recognize her fears.

Or someone can come along and smack her upside the head with the info like it's gossip to be spread.

You don't want the me.

LivinginLimbo posted 10/23/2013 07:02 AM

I'm glad that your daughter is getting counseling.

Like your WS, mine "left it up to me" to tell our children or not. It's a combination of my personal history and his dedication to fixing what he broke that I've chosen to keep this between us. However, it puts me in the position of being the bad guy if I tell our kids and there's fallout from it. Logically, I know this is all on my FWH, but my heart stops me from hurting my children.

From what you've said, you're also conflicted. Unfortunately, your daughter is as well. If she believes that her older sister will ruin any chance of R, she may feel that it will partially make it her fault if she tells and there are repercussions leading to D. Again, it doesn't make sense, but it's part of this bizarre cheater world that we're thrust in.

Then there's the "acting." Do you find yourself carefully choosing your words when you're with your older daughter? Now think of when you were 16 years old and feeling that one slip will result in your parents divorcing.

Again, I was your daughter. It's extremely unfortunate that she became a part of this. I can imagine how this has added even more pain. I never said otherwise. However, it also makes her feel responsible if her sister doesn't handle it well.

No one can foresee how others will react. Still, it will lift a burden from your youngest should she not have to keep this secret from her sibling.

solus sto posted 10/23/2013 07:10 AM

Tell her. She will feel even more betrayed if she learns of the infidelity on her own. Her sister knows; if she learns she was kept in the dark (and yes, she'll find out), she will have a much harder time.

I know it's hard; my daughter was away at college, too. Really, when she was there, it was sort of an abstract concept; she was not present for the fallout. But if she'd come home, there's NO way she would have not sensed there was something profoundly wrong.

I think making the decision not to tell her is very wrong---and quite apt to backfire on you, in terms of damage to your relationship with your older daughter. It's a conspiracy of silence.

ETA: You can help guide her response by telling her gently and compassionately. If she finds out on her own, this will not be the case.

Wow. I just realized I was describing something that sounded like I was describing telling the BS or the OBS--and it struck me that the secret-keeping is really a very wayward approach. I just don't think I could perpetuate that. (And please--don't misunderstand. I do think you think you are behaving in a way that best protects your kids and your marriage. I just think that you are not thinking about the ramifications.)

(Asking your younger daughter to be your secret-keeper is grossly unfair and inappropriate. And it will have profound impact on the way she conducts herself in relationships when she is older. Trust me on this; my childhood and adolescence was based on keeping secrets (and its corollary: smiling and nodding and pretending things are okay when they are not). It made me exceptionally vulnerable to the wrong kind of partner in life. It taught me horrible lessons about relationships.)

[This message edited by solus sto at 7:42 AM, October 23rd (Wednesday)]

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