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  1. #1
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    Do you hide bad news about your relatives from your children?

    Do you keep bad family news from your children? My family do that all the time and I always wonder why they do that (to me anyway).

    For example, my brother in law told me recently his brother got arrested for drug possession/trafficking, and his bro's wife was leaving him. My bil also told me he was keeping this piece of news from his children (who are between 10-14).

    At about the same time, my mom also told me that my cousin was getting a divorce, but she made me promise I must not tell my brother because that will "affect" my brother's marriage in some way. Years ago, my mom also decided to keep the news of her own mom's death from me, so I didn't learn about the details surrounding grandma's death until years after.

    I've been wondering about why people decide to keep family news from family, and I always wonder if this is cultural, or how widespread it is.

    So question is: Do you do it, and why?

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    my parents didnt tell me my grandma had cancer. At the time I was in a different province and they worried about how my health would react to the news..I have MS. When my grandpa passed they didnt tell me until the week after the funeral. At the time I was doing my teaching practicum and had a big concert to conduct at . They knew I couldnt come home for the funeral and waited until the oncert was done. Was it the right thing to do? Probably not, but in the case of my grandpa, they were right in that I couldnt fly home and really would have just been worried the whole time

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    Most of my husband's family rarely discuss any negative personal issues. I think it stems from a New England yankee tendency to respect other people's privacy and to "just suck it up". The problem with that is that you can't be supportive about things that you don't know about it.

    I'm pretty honest with my children but do sensor a bit depending on the circumstances. They tend to have an idea that something is up, even if you don't discuss it in front of them.

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    I'm the youngest, so my family often tries to shield me from bad news (even though I'm well beyond being a child). As a result I grew up with a highly developed ability to read people. My mom also has a habit of giving me family news in really inappropriate ways. When my grandfather (dad's dad) died when I was 11, she took me out to dinner and told me right right as our food arrived

    OTOH, the summer after high school I lived with a friend at her dad's house while we worked together. He mom had left the family a year before - her own kids didn't know where she lived, and she would call them, they weren't allowed to have her phone number. If that wasn't strange enough, I took a road trip with them to the dad's family's house. Right before we arrived, the dad stammered out that his family didn't know his wife had left them, he told them she was on a business trip and couldn't make it. Could I please make sure to not say anything different? I was and nervous all weekend I would say the wrong thing.
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    My mother got married when I was 16 without telling me - I had no idea it was even in the works until we moved in with my step-father. I'd only met him once.
    Last edited by milanessa; 10-19-2010 at 02:39 AM. Reason: Oops. :)
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    My family either chooses to not tell me or "forgets" to tell us "kids". For instance, a couple of months ago I found out my Grandma was in the hospital. What pissed me off? My Grandma was already in the hospital for a WEEK and I had to read about it on Facebook when my cousin posted about just finding out she was in the hospital herself! My Grandma is like a mom to me because my own mom was always too busy working full time while attending college full time when I was a child. This is just one example of many news that I wasn't told and just found out "accidentally". My family is filipino. My husband's family is the same way, very "hush hush" about the negative things. They actually tried to tell my kids that my FIL was on vacation instead of the truth, he was sent to jail! My husband's family is white. I really don't think race or ethnicity matters much when it comes to keeping information away.
    When it comes to my kids, they know the truth. Hubby and I chose it this way. They need to understand how life really is, maybe not the full guts and gore of it all, but it's certainly not sugar coated.

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    A friend of mine comes from a large, close Vietnamese family. Her father died almost 16 months ago, and so far they've managed to keep it from the grandmother! She actually came all the way from Vietnam to the States for a visit and has stayed, but they just tell her he's ill and in the hospital. Can you imagine the stress of not being able to openly grieve your father's / husband's death and trying to keep up the charade? It makes me crazy just thinking about it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by milanessa View Post
    My mother got married when was 16 without telling me - I had no idea it was even in the works until we moved in with my step-father. I'd only met him once.
    When I first read this, I thought you meant your mom got married when SHE was 16 and didn't tell you - as in, she had some secret short marriage before she had you and you had found out accidentally (which wouldn't be that strange of a secret to keep). Or that she had you when she was very, very young
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    My in-laws never tell us any bad news about anyone--and some news that isn't necessarily bad but they think should be private. Like, oh, my husband's siblings getting married or divorced. Or moving to another state. Or getting pregnant. Meaningless little stuff like that. But that's kind of par for the course; it's like a family habit to not tell the parents any of that stuff, either, until it's absolutely necessary for some reason. Everyone always says it's because they don't want to worry anyone or that it's just none of anyone else's business, which I find .

    My FIL is having some major health problems right now, but can we get any information out of anyone about it? No. Because my MIL thinks we shouldn't worry about such foolishness.

    I always thought my family was more open, but when my mom realized that she had only a few months to live, she took me aside and told me that as the only female in the family, I had to become the keeper of the family skeletons. And then she unloaded a whole lot of stuff on me and told me to Never Tell Anyone Because It Was All Very Bad.

    I will admit that I don't always tell my kids everything. We haven't told them how sick my FIL is, although we have told them that he's pretty sick. I don't know if that's because we don't want to worry them or because we don't know enough to know how worried they should be. I told them that my mom had cancer and was going to die even though they were very little because I didn't want it be a shock to them when it happened, but I held off telling them for a long time because I didn't think they could handle it for a prolonged period. But if it were happening now, I would tell them almost immediately, so they could come to terms with it.

    I dunno. It's hard to know what the right thing is to do when you have children, and I don't think most people ever come to think of their children as anything other than children. And maybe sometimes if you are overwhelmed yourself, it's hard to tell people something difficult and deal with their responses?
    "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."-- Albert Einstein.

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    Quote Originally Posted by myhoneyhoney View Post
    My family either chooses to not tell me or "forgets" to tell us "kids". For instance, a couple of months ago I found out my Grandma was in the hospital. What pissed me off? My Grandma was already in the hospital for a WEEK and I had to read about it on Facebook when my cousin posted about just finding out she was in the hospital herself!
    Probably another reason not to do Facebook. Because someone is going to get offended. My mum found out something about my sister on Facebook which I can't remember what it was (she had posted it to my other sister). Knowing both my mum and my sister and the way they would respond, it was probably not a good idea for her to post it.

    I have been told later after my dad had a health scare (had a couple of stints put in his heart). But when he had a pacemaker put in I got a phone call straight away which I appreciated.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by genevieve View Post
    When I first read this, I thought you meant your mom got married when SHE was 16 and didn't tell you - as in, she had some secret short marriage before she had you and you had found out accidentally (which wouldn't be that strange of a secret to keep). Or that she had you when she was very, very young
    Oops.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by milanessa View Post
    Oops.
    My first thought was even stranger: that you as a fetus asserting your right to be informed about the marriage.

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    Not our family. We revel in our relatives' foibles with fiendish glee. We were all when eville beyotch cousin got her second divorce. We trade such info with abandon. And I'm sure she got just as much of a kick out of me being laid off.

    And yes, that is truly dreadful. OTOH, if something's really wrong, someone's really in trouble, we all know instantly and can openly talk about it.

    There are pros and cons to being the type of family that lets it all out or tucks it all in.
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    Yeah, my family lies and covers up all the time. I'm pretty sure my parents lied about the year that they were married and that my mother was pregnant at the time. My grandmother lied to other family members about the date of my uncle's wedding -- my cousin was born very prematurely. My mother originally tried duping me about that, but I pointed out that I did know basic math and actually had met my cousin, who was very, very large for a newborn.

    They also bury their heads in the sand about drug use. There are much uglier things they've hidden about abuse and about abandonment of children from other relationships. I still don't know all the details.

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    My mom tends to be like that. I don't remember it being an issue when I was young but it is an issue now that I am out of the house and out of the state. She got married without telling me. When I brought it up she just said "are you sure I didn't tell you?" I think I would remember a wedding announcement! My mom and her brothers and sisters were suddenly abandoned by their mother when they were very young. While they had the best Dad in the world as well as the best stepmom one could ask for, it has to have an effect and I wonder if this is part of her issue.
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  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by jlai View Post
    Do you keep bad family news from your children? Do you do it, and why?
    I don't hide anything from anybody, being a proud Sinner and all...

    But most of my business associates' wives (in Russia) hide Everything from Everybody AND! from their children. Here are some of the more memorable "hides".

    - One wife, Inna, never told her daughter that her step-father is not her father. Irina divorsed (very peacefully) and soon remaried when her daughter was less than 2 years old. She soon had another child with her 2nd husband. Both children, daugher and son, learned by accident, when they were in their 20's, that Inna was married before and had the daughter.

    All the friends and associates knew the situation. Inna specifically told everyone "here is the real story. i want you to hear it from me. but never tell my children".

    I asked "why not? does not your daugher deserves the right to know her real father, especially if he leaves 4 blocks away? how about honestly with your children?"

    Inna's reason: My children should not know that divorce is an option in life. I don't want them to know I made a mistake in the first marriage. Such information will undermine my authority as ideal mother. There maybe friction between siblings if one is a real son and the other one is "step-daughter". I don't want my daughter to feel "less" or use the situation as a reason to resent scolding from her step-father.

    - Another wife, Ludmila, who lives now in USA, is still married to her husband, while husband lives and works in Russia, and has 2nd family with his mistress. She keeps lying to her daughter about their situation, that father lives with another family. The daugher is now 15, Ludmila stil lies to the daughter, telling her "your father is in Russia because he has business there, so that he can make money for us to live well. When he turns old, he'll come and live with us again".

    Her reason: She does not want her daughter to be hurt; to know that such situation is possible, and can be accepted by both women; to be blamed by the daugher for not "holding to father well enough to keep him".

    - Another wife, Galina, for the last 5 years did not tell her 2 children that the only surviving Grand-parents (on the father's side) migrated to Israel, and forbade Grand-parents to contact children ever again, since the Grand-parents made their choice to leave Mother-Russia. Galina told children that G-parents died in a car crash.

    Her reason - she does not want her children to know that father is 1/2 jewish, because she wants children to think they are pure Russians and good Orthodox Christians. She also does not want children to ever go to Israel to visit G-Parents. The funny part is: Chidlren have dark curly hair, black eyes, and look like they walked off 1930's Kibutz. Everyone in the Church stares at them and asks them if they are "Armenian Christians".....

    When Galina visits me in USA with children, she always asks me at the airport upon arrival not to play Kleizmir music in my car......., and to put on some "classics" like Glinka...

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    Tinami Amori, that's pretty wild. I can understand them wanting to cover up some of the situations but what they chose to tell instead is pretty stupid. Do any of those kids believe any of the stories?

    I come from a military family & we moved around a lot in the days before email & usually we were far from extended family. So all of us tended to share our letters without censoring, including my parents. They didn't always share the details if a child was too young to understand though.

    I remember when I was about 6, my uncle got the 1st divorce in the family & my mother was very upset & told us immediately. But she didn't tell us it was because he was having an affair & wanted to marry the woman.

    However, my nephew recently got in trouble with the law & his mother didn't tell us for over six months that he was in jail. I thought she was going crazy because keeping that secret changed her personality like you wouldn't believe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matryeshka View Post
    Not our family. We revel in our relatives' foibles with fiendish glee.
    That pretty much describes my family, too. It's a rush to the phone to spread the word when something juicy is going down. I might get three different calls in the same day when something happens.

    But, when I was in college, there was an incident that was really different and I am still bitter about it. My cousin's husband committed suicide in January, and my brother and I were not told until March! The whole rationale for the decision was that my family didn't want to upset us while we were studying so hard in school (ha if they only knew). I personally felt like a heel: one, for not being there for my cousin, and two, because I'm not sure how our absence was explained to everyone, imagining how it looked that we couldn't be bothered to come home from school to be at the funeral.

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    My mother was a great gossiper about anyone and everyone EXCEPT the relatives she was closest to. She told me my cousin was getting a divorce, but left out most of the details. Unfortunately, many of the other cousins knew, so they were shocked that I was so uninformed.

    Same with my grandmother's final illness... never found out the details until my mother had the same thing at about the same age. Would have been nice to know.
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  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tinami Amori View Post
    - Another wife, Galina, for the last 5 years did not tell her 2 children that the only surviving Grand-parents (on the father's side) migrated to Israel, and forbade Grand-parents to contact children ever again, since the Grand-parents made their choice to leave Mother-Russia. Galina told children that G-parents died in a car crash.

    Her reason - she does not want her children to know that father is 1/2 jewish, because she wants children to think they are pure Russians and good Orthodox Christians. She also does not want children to ever go to Israel to visit G-Parents.
    Now that I think is very sad and cruel, if the children had some past relationship with their grandparents.
    When Galina visits me in USA with children, she always asks me at the airport upon arrival not to play Kleizmir music in my car.......
    Does she fear that hearing Klezmer music will cause her children to erupt in dancing and spontaenously realize their Jewish heritage?!? OMG.

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