But Daddy, we don't know you!

Abused as a child, one parent massive personality disorder, the other sectioned and commited to a mental hospital. A grandfather who couldn’t be trusted. I had complete breakdown late teens. Then in a same-sex relationship for two years. Moved a very long way from home - got a job, met my wife, married and have children. Never been back home and have nothing to do with relatives. Children now young adults - they know nothing about my early life and they’re asking questions. Should I tell them the whole story? (apologies for ‘anon’)

Do you think it would do any good? Or would it be raking over old and very painful memories? What does your wife think, if she knows about your past?



l do feel that now might be the time that you should seek help - possibly counselling. Because it is you that needs ‘clearance and closure’ of your unhappy past. Then perhaps you will be able to explain some of it to your children. This way the knowledge you impart is not going to burden your children with your unhappy memories.

We live in a society now, that is fully aware of what does go on - nothing much is hidden anymore. So children are more likely to be able to cope with this information then a previous generation.

There must be a charitable group who will help you.

do what you feel is right for you hun!! have you made pease and accepted what happened? if so and feel ready then so be it but its got to be comfortable for you at the time of disscusion otherwise others around you will notice that your still affedted by it and my make them uncomfortable too! no fault of your own but make sure YOU are ready …best wishes xx

i agree with the others that counselling would be helpful

but if you choose not to take that path i would say dont go into details if your kids ask. just say that you had a very unhappy childhood and you may want to talk about it one day but not now.

take care

carole x


Do you think it would do any good? Or would it be raking over old and very painful memories? What does your wife think, if she knows about your past?



[/quote] Thanks Poll and thanks for NOT suggesting I need counselling! It would be raking over very difficult memories. My wife knows the whole story. I guess the question I am asking is - is there a duty on us as parents to be open with our children about everything be it good or bad? Or is it o.k. to keep things back? I don’t think that telling them my life history would affect our relationship but they would see me in a different light. I guess in some ways it can be compared with a parent who doesn’t tell their child they have m.s.

Would they, or you, benefit from telling them everythihg? How old are your children?

No I don’t think you have a duty to tell them everything. Maybe if what happened to you affects your relationship with them and it would help with that it would be worth telling them. I think only you can decide but I don’t feel they need to know A

My advice would be to know thart once you have told someone, you can never untell them.

Would telling them alter their view of you?

Having said that, my daughter knows I was abused, and I don’t think that she loves me less because of it.

But I know she’s talked about it to friends so its not a well hidden secret anymore.


For Christmas a couple years ago, I gave my parents each a ‘From me to you’ journal. They’re basically journals that you give to a family member with loads of questions about their life, which they can then fill in and give back to you. I’ve only got them back this year, but I’ve found it really interesting to read. There’s been things in them that I never knew about, and have helped explain how they are now, or the way they parented me, and I’ve found it really helpful to know. I think I’ve also felt more compassionate towards them.

So I’d be tempted to tell them. It could also give quite a powerful message to them, for example that no matter how bad things can be in our lives, there’s always potential for things to come good, and there’s always hope.


Hi again.

Something in my background which I dont know, but could do with knowing, is about health histories.

I have a neurological condition which is likley to be genetic, with a 50% chance of being passed on and cause disability like mine.

BUT, I never knew my birth father or his family history. There is no-one on my mum`s side with problems like mine.

BUT, again, I do not want to search out that side of the family, incase I face hostility.

Knowing if my condition came from them, wont make it go away, so after much thouhgt, I`ve decided not to bother.

My children and grandchildren have the option of researching the family tree if they want to.

Likewise, give your children the info, if they want to do the research themselves.

Perhaps you could just tell them your background and say it was an unhappy one and youd rather not talk about it IF thats how you feel.


I haven’t had a proper conversation with my real father since I was 11. My son is aware of this and he knows a tiny bit of the family background but I only told him odd bits as he asked and only as much as I thought he could cope with. It’s difficult to know how much they want to know really so I just used to give short replies and leave it at that. If he asked a bit more I’d perhaps say a bit more. My father wasn’t nearly as bad as yours (alcoholic and abusive) and we got out while I was young but I don’t like talking about him so I just tell my son that. He doesn’t even ask now as I have a lovely dad (mum remarried when I was 5) and he is Jamie’s grandad. I probably wouldn’t even have mentioned my real father if my ex hadn’t told my son that his grandad wasn’t really his grandad thinking he was being funny - as they do!!! Grrr!!!

I would probably do the same with your children, tell them as much as you have told us, or a bit more or less as you see fit. It wasn’t a happy childhood and you would rather forget it. Your life began when you met their mum.

Tracey x


This is a tricky one and if you don’t tell them your kids may find some of your actions difficult to understand…personally, I don’t think you owe them an explanation but it might benefit your relationship with your kids and help them better understand you.

Personally, I think sharing a potted version of events in no bad thing, it would show your kids you do trust them and would show them how solid your relationship with their mother is BUT you have to beware that there will be questions and that’s still gonna mean raking over things for you and it might be tougher than you think.

I told my step-daughter about my relationship with my Dad (he didn’t do anything too bad to me but taking 10 years out of our relationship was hard for a teenager to handle and I know it’s shaped a few things about me), as a consequence, she’ll always tell me when her Mum upsets her and understands why I can sometimes get a bit narky about my Dad and Stepmother. BUT our relationship has always been based on trust and as such, she tells me and her Dad a lot more than most parents would know through the teenage years.

I don’t think there’s a right/wrong way here, I think you’re gonna have to trust your instinct.

Good luck either way and glad you know you now have a happy family life, that’s truly something to treasure.

Sonia x

There are some similarities with our backgrounds. Do you tell your kids when they ask questions? I guess it depends on if you are ready for openness and you are ready to share those thoughts and whilst doing that to be able to remain the parent. On hand to offer support to your kids during questions. Are you ready for their emotions, they could be angry, they may need time to mull over things, or they may sit and think ‘well that explains that’. I told my kids of my own sexual abuse when they asked questions, maybe they had covered it at school, or there was something on tv. I was positive about the abuse ie because of my experiences I was able to look after and protect them more. They asked questions and I answered them. They were the lead. I did not go into too much details but I know my daughter came back to me years later and asked for more details. Which we then shared. Maybe your children/young adults need to know about your side of the family, their own family, good and bad, as this is reality of life. What is the saying, you can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family. My mother has mental health issues and alcohol problems and my kids know of this. I have not spoken with my mother for 13 years (her choice) and my kids know about her and they know that they can talk with her, contact her if they wanted to. But they don’t. This is their own choice as young adults. I am very open about their choices and they have the means to see her if they wish and am careful not to put it across as ‘its either me or her’. ( they last saw her about 5 years ago) . I think my experiences could be put into a book. Ha ha but literally I share my experiences with my children as if A book. We are prepared to pick up and put down, miss out chapters, skip the boring bits, or take a sneaky look at the end, i sometimes pick it up blow of the dust and read it myself. I hope you make the right decision for both you and your kids Yvette

Thanks for the replies - I apologise for the ‘anon.’ One of my problems is being able to tease out exactly what was going on in my family because a lot of it was emotional abuse. Also the strongest character and the most abusive was my mother and our society reveres the mother with the result that people have a problem getting their heads round the notion of the abusive mother.

I think attitudes are changing on this one. Years ago people probably would have had a problem believing it but today there is a lot of evidence that it does happen. There have been several high profile court cases sadly that prove both physical and emotional neglect and abuse. I work in a school and I do hear some nightmare stories. Of course I only hear stuff on a ‘need to know’ basis and what I hear is only the tip of the iceberg.

My heart goes out to you. I hope you find a way to deal with your children’s questions without disturbing your own peace of mind.

Tracey x

Your life experiences are very different to mine, except having MS. So I can’t put myself in your position and give good advice.

But it strikes me you are in the same experience as people like the soldiers who returned from WW1 - some didn’t want to think about their experiences never mind discuss them. I don’t think them not talking about their experiences was seen as a problem. There is a difference your and their circumstances in that there are a lot of other soldiers who understand where they are coming from, and offer support just in their joint silence.

oops - here’s the councelling thing. It might be useful to talk to someone who has been in the same situation as you. Even after many years.

If there is no rush to talk to your kids about it give yourself a break. And think about what you want to do ‘later’ - that’s a valid decision on what to do now. Just don’t make ‘later’ too long or put it off forever!

Good Luck and take care,


I work in social services and the failures of a mother were definitely hidden years ago…I once went to a lady with severe dementia (widowed) … I could not understand why her daughter kept getting so angry when the lady said to her daughter ‘I protected you when you were young, your dad treated you badly and I protected you from him so you should treat me right!’… I later found out that in fact her mother had physically and emotionally abused her and her father. This went on and on until the children left the home and likely continued for her fathers after this. I am now seeing now in my job that mothers are doing this more frequently so the abusive mother is often now unfortunately more common than it once was. I know this doesn’t go with your thread on telling your children. With regards to that I think you need to do what you feel is right for you. If raking this up is too hard then maybe its bit worth upsetting the apple cart. The most important thing for them now is their life with you and your wife and making this one full of good memories. If this is the case then I don’t see why you need to tell them (unless you feel you really need to obviously). I am sure they would not hold it against you if they ever did find out and sometimes the past is the past for a reason. Best of luck with your decision hun xxx

That above post was me…I didn’t mean to go anon. Must have pressed it by accident x

Thanks to everyone who has replied to my post re telling about childhood abuse. I have this feeling that I want to tell my children and the way I’ll approach it is to tell them a little of the ‘story’ and see how they react and depending on their reaction I’ll decide whether to tell them the whole story. Cheers.