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Advice on how to handle DS1's questions

(37 Posts)
FabBakerGirlIsBack Mon 03-Aug-09 14:42:20

I have always been adamant I would not tell my children anything about my childhood as it was just too awful but DS1 (aged 8) knows my grandparents are dead and I don't see my parents.

He has started asking questions and I don't really want to answer them because of what questions will come next.

I am not keen on an out right lie but I am really stuck on how to handle this and saying to him that I will talk about it later or I don't want to talk about it right now, isn't really fair to him.

I can't bear for them ever to know what I went through to be honest.

GrapefruitMoon Mon 03-Aug-09 14:47:13

Has he ever watched Tracy Beaker - if he has then he will know that some children don't live with their families. (Sorry I know you had a tough childhood - can't remember if you were in a children's home or fostered?)

You could just tell him that sometimes parents are not able to look after their children and that is what happened to you but obv stress that it won't happen to him...

I think sometimes just giving a short answer satisfies their curiosity, doesn't necessarily mean the whole story has to be revealed.

chimchar Mon 03-Aug-09 14:53:36

hi. i would be sure not to tell him anything that is a sort of cover up iykwim, or anything you will have to untell at a later date.

i would say (without knowing ANY of your background!)that mummy had a very sad time when i was a little girl, because i wasn't allowed to live with my mummy and daddy because they were't kind to me/couldn't look after me properly/etc, and it makes me feel sad to talk about it.
stress that you are happy now, because you have your very own family who you love and make you feel nice inside...

....or something! tbh, it depends on your childs age and level of understanding etc...

FabBakerGirlIsBack Mon 03-Aug-09 14:53:45

We haven't experienced Tracey Beaker yet. I think I might have told him that not everyone can look after their kids and they know other people were involved.

I just wasn't prepared for all these questions.

And I was both, GM.

ABetaDad Mon 03-Aug-09 15:45:11

Fabbaker - I remember your recent post about your background and TBH my mother has refused to say anything about her childhood for 45 years. I knew perfectly well there was a dark secret for most of my life but no one would say. In fact the secret is only dark to my mother - not to me. I know part of the story and I want my mother to tell me the rest.

As chimchar says make it age specific what you say now but add detail as the children get older.

I know my mother has a very very similar childhood background to you and it has hurt me and my sisters as well as my mother for many years by keeping it a secret.

FabBakerGirlIsBack Mon 03-Aug-09 16:36:53

I just don't want them to know as they will worry about me and I am not sure there is enough to gain by them knowing. They might feel they understand why I am the way I am but what if they think they weren't enough to make everything else all right?

chimchar Mon 03-Aug-09 18:13:39

well. you have two choices. you either lie, either by concocting a big story about your family, just to make it better, or you lie by not telling them anything, OR, you tell them the truth, slowly slowly, bit by bit, as and when appropriate.

if you do tell them, then it is up to you as a mum to describe things in an easy to live with (for them) way. you don't have to give details, you can sugar coat it for them if you feel you need to...you can be factual, and try not to show how damaged you are by it if you don't want to...

it is not up to your children to make you better or alright..the sad fact is that you have had the shittiest of childhoods and are trying now to deal with the aftermath...good on you sweetie for getting this far.

be honest with your children...you have nothing to be ashamed of. hugs ((())) x

FabBakerGirlIsBack Mon 03-Aug-09 18:19:42

I guess I do feel ashamed.

He just feels too young to have his world shattered that there are some bad people out there in his world iyswim. Not that he will ever see my parents.

screamingabdab Mon 03-Aug-09 18:21:30

Hi Fab, perhaps it would help us if you give us an example of the exact questions he is asking.

Sometimes a child's questions can bring up all sorts of complicated emotions for us, and we may think that they are asking something that they actually aren't, because they don't have the burden of all our knowledge, IYSWIM.

chimchar Mon 03-Aug-09 18:32:38

have you thought about getting a book to look at with him?

something like this?

it may give you a starting point...

what are you so worried about your ds knowing about you?

chimchar Mon 03-Aug-09 18:35:53

you know what? i totally agree with not wanting to tell your children about bad stuff, but the world can be a really nasty place, and i think it is a life lesson to be learned without having to experience the pain himself iykwim? and i'm sure, if you handle it in a sensitive manner (which you will) then it will help him to develop understanding and empathy for others...lovely attributions to have as a character.

screamingabdab Mon 03-Aug-09 18:39:55

Agree with chimchar.

My DS1 is also 8, and it is hard to see his increasing awareness of the fact that the world can be cruel (so much harder for you, though, Fab, because it was you who were hurt).

BUT, your hurt doesn't have to become his burden, if you are tackling its effects, and are open about yourself.

FabBakerGirlIsBack Mon 03-Aug-09 18:41:19

He asked the other day if I had any brothers or sisters and if I had answered yes he would then have asked who they were, why don't we see them, etc etc

He has also asked if my mum is alive and I said I don't know. I am sure she is but I don't know for certain.

All feels another thing I have to deal with because of other peoples actions.

FabBakerGirlIsBack Mon 03-Aug-09 18:42:53

I think that book would make me sad, chimchar, as my experience wasn't good.

chimchar Mon 03-Aug-09 19:09:43

awww fabbaker..

i understand that your experience wasn't good, but what i guess i'm trying to say is that you can try to explain the factual parts of your childhood to your ds in a non emotional sense...explain what being in care means...use your own reasons, and put some others in too to give a balanced view..ie.. some children have to go into care because their mummies and daddies are nasty to them, some have to because their mummies are not able to look after their children, some go for a few weeks while the mums and dads have a rest etc

its fine to tell your ds, i do have brothers and sisters..but i was only a little girl when we were separated, so i don't remember much about them..i don't know where they are now...i wonder..i don't know where my mum is now..she was very unkind to me, and i don't really want to be friends with her any more.

i know that your experience was terrible, but what i'm trying to demonstrate i guess is that you can tell him what he needs to know without the FUILL details until you feel ready to share them.

hth

GrapefruitMoon Mon 03-Aug-09 19:42:34

Fab, I think it is very natural to be protective of our children and to protect them from the big bad world as long as possible - especially our first born. I remember feeling very sad when my eldest started school and came home one day, saying that some children's daddies don't live with them. It was the first she'd heard about that as none of her friends from before school were in that position.

Now with my younger children I am a bit more blase and they may comment about children in their class whose parents are not together but it is just an observation they are making, they are not worrying about it happening to them (afaik!)

And sometimes we as adults worry about things far too much - when my SIL was pregnant and the baby's father had dumped her, we had a conflab about what story to tell my dd as that would become the story her baby would most likely hear too eventually - you know what, dd never even asked about the baby's dad.

I think you will find it hardest to talk to your ds1 about your past, once you have done that it will be easier with the others.

FabBakerGirlIsBack Mon 03-Aug-09 19:43:05

It does help but I still don't want to tell him.sad

GrapefruitMoon Mon 03-Aug-09 19:44:48

You seem to be thinking about the past a lot right now. Has something happened to bring it all back or is it an ongoing thing? Is there any way your counselling could be brought forward?

FabBakerGirlIsBack Mon 03-Aug-09 19:57:33

So many things are happening at the moment and pretty much everything is related to the past in some way. Not surprised I feel like my head is going to explode or I could easily break down.

I don't know about bringing the counselling forward - no idea if DH will be able to have the kids as he is fighting to keep his job.

screamingabdab Mon 03-Aug-09 20:05:27

Fab, I think that this is more about the distress that you are feeling in having to think about this, as Grapefruit says.

You can speak to your son in a factual way, and I don't think you need to worry about him, but it sounds as if, at the moment, you are worried about yourself feeling overwhelmed.

itsbeingsocheerful Mon 03-Aug-09 20:07:39

FabBaker could your DH try to answer DS1's questions? He could explain, at one remove, that it still makes you sad to think about it, which is why you find it so difficult to talk about now.

I think you have to find some way of telling him as much as you can. In my experience, if you try to cover something up children have a way of deciding it must be all their fault somehow.

FabBakerGirlIsBack Mon 03-Aug-09 20:10:10

I usually look at DH all pleadingly but he doens't answer, doesn't get what I want him to do or changes the subject. I will talk to DH about it when he has finished work.

Quite often DH isn't here when DS is asking.

babaaa Mon 03-Aug-09 20:16:27

Hi Fab baker girl - i really feel for you -I was in similar situation- but i did meet my mum as an adult and it did not work out as she appeared a selfish person who had no interest in my ds and dd-nothing had changed- as she left me ...my children have asked me countless questions like why dont i see granny, why isnt she interested in us - and tbh i tell them that she just does not have a maternal interest and that shes not into childeren which is true - (she says it herself..)and that this is not usual and I and them have got the "short straw " in some ways because of it ,but how lucky we are in other ways.I DO worry occasionally that as i dont see her at all now because she didnt have any intrest in the children -and i would not allow her to treat them as she treated me - that the children MAYthink that you just dump people if they dont come up to your expectations but i have to re assure myself that they know this is not true via their bond with me -ie if we have a fall out we are still a family etc and no one disappears- and its because she broke or did not even form a bond with her children that I can walk away from her now - not as a punishment to her but because their isnt the attachment that should be there and IS there between mine and me - i tell the children that she left me if they ask it was because she did not attach and they hav e no fear because they know damm well how much i am attached to them and vica versa!!!.Dont forget that their experience isnt yours - so the pain that you must have felt due to what happened to you cant touch THEM because their mother wnt do the same to THEM x I dont mean to be patronising in any way when i say that ,more to liberate you -i wish someone had said it to me ! what i mean is when my dc were born i assummed at first that they wd wory that i would leave them as that was my experience - ie that normal seperation anxiety in a child would be magnified for them as it was in me as mine left but did not come back !!that simply was not the case and it took me a good while for me until the penny dropped when i realised that they will never feel as bad as i felt becuase what happened to me will NOT happen to them so they will not have that pain - yours may realise if ou tell them that yes bad things happen but knowing it in abstract sense is not the smae as feeling it when it happens to you and as i say - yours will never know that pain just by hearing, about but not experiencing,bad stuff.x

cyteen Mon 03-Aug-09 20:23:19

FBG, if you tell him (in an age-appropriate etc. manner as helpfully suggested by posters above), you won't just be showing him that there are bad people in the world. You'll be showing him that good people can come through terrible hurt and still be good people, with happy, loving families.

Secrets eat away at families. I'm not telling you what to do but I think in the long run you will all be better off letting a little light in between you.

Best wishes

FabBakerGirlIsBack Mon 03-Aug-09 20:42:34

When I see certain expressions on his face I assume he is feeling the same as what I did and while I know that can't be true, it doesn't stop me worrying.

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