Should my adult child know the truth about her stepfather?
I’m her father, divorced seven years ago, after 10 years of marriage and two kids.
I had my kids 50% of the time, both have turned into fantastic people, and I’m happy too.
Here’s what happened back then: During the last two years of our marriage, my wife had a mid-life crisis and a weak mental state. I tried to support her through it.
She had an affair with a married father of three children.
After our split, she remained with him and he became my kids’ stepfather.
The kids were heartbroken for years after. They blamed their mother and me equally, but I never said a bad word about their mother.
I’d seen emails between them from three months before the split. She’d wanted to end the affair and focus on the marriage and family.
However, he was all about breaking the families up, so they could be together.
He used gentle persuasion and romanticized it like Romeo and Juliet.
He also benefited from a huge upgrade in lifestyle if she chose him, which was a big part of his attraction to her.
He got what he wanted, but at a heavy price to everyone else.
Now that my daughter’s 18 and leaving the nest, I’m wondering if I should tell her the truth about how he came to be in their life.
I’m not trying to be vindictive. But I feel the kids have a right to know the truth considering the effect it had on them, so they can make their own judgement call.
Too Much Truth?
It’s the source that’s wrong – you - not the timing.
Truth often manages to emerge, especially when older children see things with clearer vision, and understand things that eluded them before.
But it could be a huge mistake for you to reveal it.
At 18, her whole life is opening up – higher education, dating, and more independence.
She wants to embrace her present and look ahead, not dwell on the past.
If suddenly, one of her main supporters raises disturbing new thoughts and images, she’s forced to go over old hurts.
Trust me, time will open her eyes and mind. She doesn’t have to be told her stepfather pushed for the family break-up.
If he’s been a decent stepfather, it no longer matters to her life how he got there, even if it still matters to yours.
And if his character has serious flaws, she’ll become aware of them on her own.
I've been friends with this girl for seven years since high school. We hung out all the time.
We dated for a short time. But I ended that because it didn't work. After, we’d hang out and communicate online.
But for two years she's been distant and doesn't return online or text messages (though “read”).
Recently, she unfriended me from Facebook and blocked me on Instagram.
I’m angry and hurt.
I want to ask mutual friends about what's going on, but don't want to intrude. I want to stay friends.
There’s no longer a friendship there worth trying to save.
She’s spent two years distancing from you and has now blocked contact.
Unless you’re aware of having seriously offended her (if so, apologize) she may have taken to social media house cleaning…i.e. paring down vast lists of so-called “friends” to only those with an ongoing, mutually caring, connection.
Boost your other friendships, make new ones when possible, and accept that this one’s over.
FEEDBACK Regarding the husband who’s “Hanging In” a year after his wife said she’s done and wants to be on her own… but she’s still there (May 27):
Reader – “You didn’t mention the power play the wife put in place.
“She decreed, “You’re inadequate,” "I’m committed to leaving (but I’ll leave when I please)” and “There’s nothing you can do to change things.” Then she stays.
“Her bluff needs to be called. The power differential that she’s created is entirely too comfortable for her, and a recipe for miserable stagnation.
“I agree with you that the husband should see a counsellor on his own to work out a strategy, either to balance the relationship or else to otherwise protect himself.
“I strongly suspect that the wife has no respect for a “milquetoast” husband and may be longing for him to show some strength and set some boundaries. Otherwise, she dreams of somebody else.”
Tip of the day:
Being “the truth messenger” about a past trauma can sometimes backfire.