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When's the best age to reveal your 'skeletons' to your dcs?

(19 Posts)
Moomin Sat 23-Aug-08 14:52:55

Like the fact I've been married before and also the fact that I'm adopted?...

Dd1 is nearly 7. I don't want to tell her stuff that she may get confused about and would potentially upset her, but neither do I want either of these things to be accidentally blurted out by anyone so they come as a huge shock to her now or in the future.

Dh nearly let slip about my 1st marriage last week as he was talking to an acquaintance who was giving him and dd1 a life somewhere, and just stopped himself. It's no big deal to me or him - I was young, the marriage lasted 5 years and ended sadly but not in the least bit acrimoniously. My ex lives a long way from where we live so there's no chance of us bumping into him.

and the adoption thing... well, dd1 has adopted friends and she knows what it means, but I'm very sensitive about it as I don't like anyone making the assumption that the relationship I have with my dad (my mum died when I was 9) is any less just because we're not blood relations. and I don't want to confuse dd1. I grew up always knowing I was adopted and my parents handled it really well, but dh (rightly) points out that it's different beiong the actual adopted child to being my own child, iyswim (in that it was v.important for me to know as early as poss but not so much so for dd1).

Any ideas?

Moomin Sat 23-Aug-08 14:53:30

should say 'giving them a lift' !

ILikeToMoveItMoveIt Sat 23-Aug-08 15:05:08

I think I was about 8 or 9 when my mum told me she was adopted.

My cousin had mentioned it to me sometime previous to my mum telling me, and I just ignored what my cousin said - and I did know what adoption meant.

I clearly remember my mum telling me and I had no negative or positive feelings about it whatsoever. My mum was still my mum and my grandad (my mum's adoptive parent) was still my grandad. I don't think I even discussed it with either of them as it seemed so unimportant. I couldn't have loved my grandad anymore than I already did.

I'm not sure if I can give you any advice, but that is my story!

Earlybird Sat 23-Aug-08 15:06:46

I'd tell her now in basic language she can grasp, of course. No need to go into complicated explanations. You can also explain the difference between information that is 'private' and information that is a 'secret'. (Presumably, you'd classify yours as private?)

Also, if you know anyone else who was married previously or was adopted, you can use them as an example of how your situation has happened to others too, and is not highly unusual. (Obviously, you'd need to decide how 'private' their information is before you share it.)

I've always been advised it is much better to tell children 'big' news from a very young age. By doing so, there is no (potentially) traumatic conversation later in life that upsets them, or hurts your relationship because they feel you misled or deceived them.

MrsMattie Sat 23-Aug-08 15:06:56

I think I was about 9/10 yrs old when my mum told me she had been married before. I thought it was a great, exciting thing that my mum had had this other life before she was my mum!

BalloonSlayer Sat 23-Aug-08 15:08:39

Dunno but would be interested in other people's ideas too.

I have also been married before, as has my sister, and she said my neice didn't like it at all when she found out her mum had been married before. But tough tits though, eh?

What worries me is the questions about my ex there will be.

DH doesn't think we need to tell the DCs at all. hmm about that.

I think my instinct would be to leave it as late as possible before puberty in the eldest. So it doesn't get turned into something it isn't. Whether this notion is right or not I have NO idea...

MrsSprat Sat 23-Aug-08 15:15:22

I found out about my mum's previous marriage when I was about 8, by accidently happening on an old passport of my mum's which had a different surname. I think I was a bit shocked at first, but mainly because I was into spies at that age and thought she might be a spy grin. Don't remember being that phased to be honest, maybe a bit disappointed on the spy front. Although she was still on fairly good terms with ex and we didn't go into the break-up story until I was well into my teens. I think it was simply a case of bland 'we didn't love each other any more and then I met your daddy' bland-o type explanation at the time.

Moomin Sat 23-Aug-08 23:48:26

lol at thinking she was a spy!

Dd1 gets worried sometimes of me and dh row as she's getting aware of people breaking up and there are obviously kids she knows now whos parents have divorced. This has made her a bit anxious and she sometimes asks if dh and I will love each other for ever,etc. So I don't know if telling her about my 1st marriage will worry her more, in case she thinks I'm some kind of Elizabeth taylor-type character who might just go onto marriage number 3 at some point soon...

But on the other hand I think it's a good idea not to make too big a deal about it and maybe bring it up quite casually?

ranting Sat 23-Aug-08 23:52:21

Hmmm, difficult one. I haven't told my dd that I was married before but because I have an older child from that relationship, she kind of just accepts that her db has a different dad to her iyswim. It's all she's ever known, so I don't suppose she'd really understand even if I sat her down and told her.

Dh has also been married before but has no dcs from that or any previous relationship, so I will be watching this with interest.

chapstickchick Sun 24-Aug-08 00:00:22

my dh was married before he met me our kids grew up knowing this and being adopted isnt a skeleton- stop fretting its no big deal!!!
its doesnt affect your relationship with your dd and isnt eally at the forefront of your relationship now......i dont think this is a gret sitting round the table to discuss thing tbh smile

solo Sun 24-Aug-08 00:01:35

8. I always said I'd do the explaining to Ds about me and his father and the other stuff he needed to know at age 8 and I did...and have answered his questions ever since. He's 10 now and questions often pop into his head.

edam Sun 24-Aug-08 00:02:39

If it's getting to the point where your dh is tripping up over keeping this secret, it's probably time to mention it.

Not sure why either would confuse her, tbh - I can remember being seven and, given how often adoption features in children's literature, I would have thought it was VERY cool indeed.

As it happened, I was 16 before I found out my mother was adopted - but that's because she didn't know, either.

Moomin Sun 24-Aug-08 00:03:57

but how did they 'grow up knowing it'- by osmosis? There must have been a time when it came up and was discussed?

and I'm not fretting, I'm asking advice. I'm aware being adopted isn't a skeleton as such but I had a very bad experience when I was younger with other people's attitutdes towards adoption and I'll admit it's affected the way I feel and who I choose to tell about it.

chapstickchick Sun 24-Aug-08 00:09:31

i think moomin there was photos of his dc from his previous marriage and wed always said thats xxxxx and xxxxxx from daddys first family - our sons are 15,12 and 7 and never enquire after them ( it wasnt very nice split and his first wife soon remarried and mde things 'difficult'-these children are adults now and dont stay in touch sad)

Lazycow Sun 24-Aug-08 00:14:04

Well I was married in the past have already made a comment about it to ds (nearly 4 years old). This was in the context of talking about weddings/marriage etc (we were looking at my wedding photos - one with dh not with x!)

I think sitting down to discuss it is making a bigger deal of it then it needs to be. I think these things are best mentioned early so that the child grows up knowing about it and it is just part of their lives/background so to speak. They may ask questions but that is fine you just answer them as best you can really.

The adoption thing is a bit more difficult IMO because quite frankly it affects her more than your previous marriage which is probably just an exotic piece of info about mum for her.

The fact that you are adopted does affect her though of course much less than it does you. It means she may have limited knowledge about her birth family on your side and while that may well be be fine with her I think she needs to know about it.

edam Sun 24-Aug-08 00:14:29

Moomin, my mother just talked about stuff as and when it came up in conversation. So I've 'always known' for instance, that my parents got married after I was born.

(God, that makes me feel old, imagine explaining to a child these days that it was unusual or worthy of comment!)

BitOfFun Sun 24-Aug-08 00:17:59

I would talk about it as it comes up from now, as your dc is old enough to understand, and if you leave it too late it might be more of a big deal than it should be. You sound sensitive enough to make it understandable, and I think it will be a weight off your mind. You may get a lot of questions, but as long as you are clear in your own head, I'm sure you will handle it just fine. A good lesson in "Life's Rich Tapestry" and it brought me to you kind of thing...good luck with it, and bite the bullet, I'm sure there is nothing to worry about x x

AbbeyA Sun 24-Aug-08 14:39:42

I always think it is best to tell them these things as early as possible and then it is no big deal. I had to explain to my DSs, mainly because their brother has a different surname. I can't remember how old they were, but under school age.
My older cousin is adopted and it is just something that I have always known. I saw her on my own last year and I can't remember what we were talking about but it seemed to cast doubt on whether I knew she was adopted because she suddenly said 'you do know that I am adopted don't you?'I told her that it was just something that I knew for as long as I can remember. There had never been any need to talk about it-apparently she is very sensitive like OP and doesn't tell many people.
I think it easier the earlier you know because it just a fact that you absorb.

Moomin Mon 25-Aug-08 21:43:49

Well I told her last night about the adoption. We were on a journey back from friends and we brought the conversation round in a natural way (well we thought it was anyway), talking about how different families are made up and as long as there is lots of love, that's the most important thing, etc.

She was a bit put out to begin with and asked lots of questions but she was ok after that and quite happy with our answers.

Dh however, dropped it into a conversation today with friends in front of dd1 about my Divorce party 10 years ago - DOH!! But dd1 didn't seem to notice thank goodness... we'll cross that bridge another day!

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