Happy New Year,
Did you know that most people – about 92% do not keep their New Years Resolutions? Yep, and the top three resolutions are:
1. I’m going to exercise more.
2. I’m going to eat healthy food.
3. I’m going to save more money.
Can you relate? Do you make New Years Resolutions and have you been able to keep them? If so, what’s your secret?
Last year I picked one of those three. I had picked it for years but never followed through. I was like
I went cold turkey. New Years Day 2018, no more gelato. No more ice cream period. I haven’t had even a taste all year. I was pretty strict with no sugar for the first 6 months of 2018. I found it easier to say no to all of those things than trying to decide how much was “a little bit.”
But I lost 20 pounds and feel much better. I’m inspired to continue my healthy eating journey in this New Year. How about you? What are your resolutions for this New Year?
This Week's Question: I was married 32 years to a man with many narcissistic traits. We had 5 children who are all young adults-18-23 years old. He was controlling and some of the kids and I endured emotional, financial, verbal and spiritual abuse.
We had counseling and our church worked appropriately (after learning through your resources) with us and with him. He never listened and as expected everything was blamed on me. As “the heat” was applied he withdrew, began socializing in another city. I found evidence of other women, which of course he denied.
Because he was such a manipulative liar, about a year ago I arranged my move out quickly and quietly, surprising him by the move. The 2 children still at home came along (17 1/2 and 19). Our kids did not know many details, just that it was bad and their father spent many nights out. I soon filed and we are now divorced. He has never admitted to any wrongdoing or anything about other women. He has lost the respect of the kids, moved to another city and started an entirely single life. The kids rarely see him.
He is of late giving them big money gifts. One of the women he was involved with filed sexual assault ch
I will admit that I can imagine him assaulting her as well as threatening me. He was very bizarre acting after I left, and I have gone no contact.
My question is how much do you tell young adult children when they ask details? How much do you tell them if they don't ask? I have no wish to be anywhere near him, he is mentally unstable.
Answer: I’m so glad that you are safe and have chosen to go no contact with a clearly dangerous man. I’m also extremely grateful that your church believed you and exerted appropriate boundaries and authority over him so he could not continue to pretend and fool everyone. That’s why he left town. He could not maintain his image any longer.
As for your question about the kids, who are now all adults. How much do you tell them?
The answer to this question isn’t always the same for everyone so let me share some criteria that you as well as other people reading this blog may find helpful in discerning how much of the details to disclose.
1. A good parent always makes decisions with the best interests of her/his child in mind. Click To Tweet
Generally, it is best for kids (even adult kids) to love and be loved by both parents. Obviously, in your situation, your children have seen plenty of your husband’s poor behaviors, both towards you and towards them. They may ask questions and if so be truthful with the facts.
Maybe now he’s trying to “buy” their love back with large monetary gifts. Can you trust your kids to understand that money does not buy good relationships? Try not to be discouraged or angry if they do accept and enjoy his lavish money gifts. Most adult children like to get monetary gifts from their parents even if they personally don’t like or approve of the parent giving it.
However, if you notice that the money always comes with stress and strings attached, perhaps you can give a gentle reminder that money doesn’t fix broken relationships. You can ask them, “Do you want to have to pay the emotional cost of a trip to Hawaii with your dad?” It’s something they can ponder.
2. Sometimes it’s necessary to share age-appropriate details, even if they don’t ask. You would do this when:
a. You as a parent are the target of untrue and malignant criticism by your spouse and your child doesn’t know what to believe or who is telling the truth. It is your job as a parent to teach your children to interpret reality truthfully as well as to tell him or her the truth. You can do this without disparaging their father by simply saying, “That’s not true. The facts are……….. and if you need more proof of that let me know.”
For example, if a spouse was put in jail because of abuse or non-support, and your ex-husband told your children that “you put him in jail.” You can simply say, “That’s not true. I have no power to put anyone in jail. Only judges can put someone in jail and only when there is proof that a person broke the law.”
b. Your child or his or her family might be harmed by the sinful unhealthy behaviors and attitudes of your spouse.
For example, if you knew your husband was viewing child pornography, for your children and grandchildren’s safety this must be disclosed to them so that they can make sure their children are safe if they choose to allow a relationship with their father. Or you knew he was a drug addict and legal consequences might fall on them if he lived with them temporarily and was dealing or using drugs. Or if he made suicidal or homicidal threats, this would be important information for adult children to have.
3. The following questions are helpful in deciding whether it’s best to tell more details or best to stay silent regarding a spouse’s sins and flaws.
a. Is my child or his or her family being harmed by them?
b. Is my child or his/her family being harmed by not knowing?
c. Will it help them to know?
d. Do the benefits of
4. And finally here are some personal self-reflective questions you can ask yourself that help you think through why you might want to share the ugly details of marital distress with your child.
a. Do I NEED my children to side with me?
b. Do I NEED their dad to be the bad guy?
c. Do I NEED their sympathy and support?
d. Do I want to punish my spouse by making him look bad to my kids?
If your answer is yes to these last four questions, then I would be very cautious about disclosing the ugly details to your children. Remember, a good parent has the best interests of her child in mind even when it costs her. If you NEED something from your kids in order for you to be okay with the decision you made to separate or divorce, then you have your own work to do.
It sounds like you are a wise, brave, self-aware, and self-reflective woman who does have her children’s best interests in mind. I think by reviewing some of the criteria I’ve given you, the decision of what to tell or how much to tell will become crystal clear.
Friend, what other criteria have you used to decide whether or not to disclose the details of marital wrongs to your children – adult or younger?