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Do you hide bad news about your relatives from your children?

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by jlai, Oct 19, 2010.

  1. jlai

    jlai Title-less

    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. :huh: 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?
    Eden and (deleted member) like this.
  2. jp1andonly

    jp1andonly Well-Known Member

    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
  3. Auntie

    Auntie Well-Known Member

    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.
  4. genevieve

    genevieve drinky typo pbp, closet hugger Staff Member

    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 :rolleyes: :mad: :wall:

    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 :eek: and nervous all weekend I would say the wrong thing.
  5. milanessa

    milanessa engaged to dupa

    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. :lol:
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2010
  6. myhoneyhoney

    myhoneyhoney Well-Known Member

    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.
  7. skaternum

    skaternum Grooving!

    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.
  8. genevieve

    genevieve drinky typo pbp, closet hugger Staff Member

    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 :saint:
  9. Prancer

    Prancer Slave to none, master to all Staff Member

    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 :eek:.

    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 :eek: 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?
  10. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Hates both vegemite and peanut butter

    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.
  11. milanessa

    milanessa engaged to dupa

    Oops. :lol:
  12. jlai

    jlai Title-less

    My first thought was even stranger: that you as a fetus asserting your right to be informed about the marriage. :eek:
    milanessa and (deleted member) like this.
  13. Matryeshka

    Matryeshka Well-Known Member

    Not our family. We revel in our relatives' foibles with fiendish glee. We were all :watch: 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.
  14. Allskate

    Allskate Well-Known Member

    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. :lol: 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.
  15. BigB08822

    BigB08822 Well-Known Member

    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.
  16. Tinami Amori

    Tinami Amori Well-Known Member

    I don't hide anything from anybody, being a proud Sinner and all...:encore:

    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".....:D

    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... :D
  17. taf2002

    taf2002 zexy demon

    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.
  18. Bev Johnston

    Bev Johnston Well-Known Member

    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.
  19. Aceon6

    Aceon6 Hit ball, find ball, hit it again.

    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.
  20. skatingfan5

    skatingfan5 Past Prancer's Corridor

    Now that I think is very sad and cruel, if the children had some past relationship with their grandparents.
    :eek: Does she fear that hearing Klezmer music will cause her children to erupt in dancing and spontaenously realize their Jewish heritage?!? OMG. :lol:
  21. Bev Johnston

    Bev Johnston Well-Known Member

    :rofl: This is fun to picture!

    Is it common for Russians to hide their family secrets from their children? I have a Russian friend who is not even sure that her mother is actually her mother, and no one in the family seems to want to tell her the truth.
  22. Squibble

    Squibble New Member

    jlai, my questions for you are: Are you going to keep your promise, and why (or why not)? And if you aren't, will you stand up to your mother and tell her that you're telling him?

    It's also very foolish on the mother's part. If the children ever find out the truth, they are going to be angry and resentful toward their mother. The same goes for the children of Tinami's other friends.
  23. jlai

    jlai Title-less

    In this case, I don't think it matters because my brother does not care enough for this particular cousin to care either way. :wall:

    Which is why I find it :huh: that my mom is so touchy about spreading the news.
  24. cruisin

    cruisin Banned Member

    I didn't know that my grandmother (Dad's side) was born in Italy and moved to the US when she was 12, until 2 years after she died. Apparently, she didn't want to be thought of as an immigrant. I was rather upset about the fact that I was her granddaughter and would like to have been able to ask her questions. There were also big family secrets about the fact that most of my Dad's family had diabetes. the family knew, but we were told not to tell anyone outside "the family" :lol:.

    I think that telling bad news is not a simple thing. It depends on the age of the person being told and their ability to deal with it. Is there any reason to tell a young child that their grandparent has cancer? Tell them that the family member is sick and keep it simple. As far as separations, addictions, the sort of things where people are judged, it's up to the person(s) involved. If they want to keep it private, it should be kept private.
  25. znachki

    znachki Active Member

    I tend to agree with this. How much you tell children, is of course, dependent on their age. In general for everone, a simple statement of fact, so and so is divorcing, or so and so passed away, without going into gratuitous detail should be enough.

    As for health issues, again, I don't think details are needed, and I get that people don't want to worry others, but especially if the issues is one (ie cancer) that has repercussions for others. People need to know. A history of cancer, in a family for instance.

    One thing I would never do, is lie. What Galina did, was totally wrong, and could rebound on her and her kids in ways she may never get over.
  26. cruisin

    cruisin Banned Member

    Absolutely, never lie. I still regret being lied to about my grandma's birth place.

    If asked you give the amount of information that is needed or appropriate. In a situation where it is information that the person who is ill or in the middle of the "issue", does not want discussed, you simply say you cannot discuss it.

    Sometimes things should be kept private because it's no one else's business and it could effect a person's recovery or future.
  27. Tinami Amori

    Tinami Amori Well-Known Member

    No, nothing that silly…… Galina has her good reasons… The CD I was playing the first time had some singing in Yiddish and kids were asking what language it was; one of the songs was “Feigele”, and the little girl remembered her grand-mother “used those words” and used to call her “Feigele” and the boy started to remember stuff and asked what’s “mishugina”, what’s “goyim”……

    Then there was a situation in the Church few years ago. I am the kids’ God-Mother, and there was a spat in the Church between me and the Priest during christening. He asked me where my cross is and was I ever baptized; it got to the “jewish issue”; when he learned “who I am in the region” he pulled back and said “no biggie, JC was also a Jew, so go ahead with the ceremony”…. Kids started asking about Christ the Jews, etc… :D.

    The Priest (a very young man) was a cousin of a cousin of our business associate, so we took him with us to the restaurant to celebrate. We were all drinking, Galina’s husband (my associates, who is ½ jewish) started horsing around and we started toasting “Leheim”; the Priest was also “full of spirits” and instead of “Leheim” thought we’re teasing him about his drinking by saying “Lakaem” (a slang word which means “he has guzzled too much liquor”). Kids started asking what’s Leheim and Lakaem, the Priest started chatting some prayer and kept forgetting the words, they had to take him home…… etc.

    I don’t know if these kids will be upset about the hidden truth……. They may get upset about the grand-parents information. About being ¼ jewish? I don’t know…. I’ve seen two outcomes…. It’s quite common in Russia to go with the “Russian heritage and hide the Jewish side”….. Some get upset about the lack of trust towards them. Some get upset because if they knew they might have made different choices, like trying to live in Israel, or feeling confident about their smarts and business abilities. Some, as soon as they learn the truth, become “more Russian than Putin” and biggest anti-Semites, some run to the Church to get christened….. (Like Irina Slutskaya)….. I think Russian parents have a little more power to convince their kids that they did it for their own good…. If one is doing something with good intentions – the responsibility for a negative out come is perceived to be “less”.

    Most Russians I know who are in 2nd marriages and had children in 1st marriages or out of wedlock, do not like telling their children that the current spouse is not their parent. If they can get away with it – they will not tell at least until the child is an adult.

    Many women, during divorce, ask their ex-husbands to write a letter of Relinquishing of Parental rights for their joint children, so that in the future the new husband can take full custody. Many Russian husbands will not accept a “husband from the past” in any aspects of the family life. Many 2nd wives, do not want children from previous marriages hanging around… It's best to make a child believe that a current spouse is genetic parent.

    In the 40’s and 50’s, right after the War, many unmarried young women adopted their orphaned sisters, cousins, children of friends, pretending to be their mothers, so that the kids were not send to orphanages. We know several families my parents’ age where “de-jure mothers” were actually “de-facto sisters” or “relatives” of much younger children.

    For many Russians over 30, divorce is something “shameful”, child out of wed-lock is not a desired event (loose woman), adoption is something last resort….

    Do Russians like to hide family secrets? It more a matter of To Talk or Not to Talk.
    There are different categories…. :D

    Misery loves company.
    There are people who live very difficult lives and have little to lose from the “leak of personal information”, those are likely to tell everyone about their problems, often in hope of sympathy and to solicit help.

    My miseries will get me everywhere.
    There is also a belief that people are more willing to help the “Les Miserable”…. If one wants to get something, or get away with something, in Russia you get more cooperation if you give a sob story “my child sick, my husband left me, my dog ran away”….

    Proud Sinners.
    Then there are those who live like this Russian proverb - “mne more po koleno” – the deepest ocean is only knee-deep when I walk. Every misfortune, if it does not kill you, makes you stronger. Wear your scars from Life, Love and War as Victory Medals.

    Here one of the street rhymes on the subject……. :lol:
    “Desyat’ zhenok brosil ya….. Devyat’ brosili menya”
    “Ten wives I had to leave… Nine wives abandoned me”

    Or the old song from a Russian Western cult movie “White Sun of the Desert”
    “I am unlucky in finding death, I will be lucky in finding love”.

    Loose Tongue is a precious find to the Enemy.
    During years of USSR and KGB the less you talk – the better. Any event or occurrence in your life can be misinterpreted against you. It’s best not to tell too much to the children – they talk to friends, and friends tell their parents. Children often were a source of information about a family which authorities were interested in.

    Word is Silver, Silence is Gold.
    Just a common cultural belief that one appears smarter when one talks less. Listen more, talk less – you’ll be better off. Only fools talk too much – smart men gather information, not disburse it.

    Quick talkers are Scoundrels.
    Those who talk too much, the “quick-tongued elaborate talkers” are up to no good – they are trying to “chatter up your brains” away from a real issue, or cheat you out of something.

    Information is a cause of Envy and Jinx.
    Superstition: Don’t talk about your troubles or good things. The people will wish you more trouble, or jinx the good stuff. If you need to tell – tell only after the issue is settled.

    Hyenas follow only the Bleeding Deer.
    Don’t tell about your troubles – if you show weakness – the vultures will swarm all over you.

    I think in everyday life Russians are more inclined Not To Talk. When you become close, go through few "life and death situations" together, drink with them, after few drinks - many are VERY inclined To Talk...
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2010
  28. Prancer

    Prancer Slave to none, master to all Staff Member

    For me, the problem with telling a child that someone is sick and then having that person die is that young children get sick. I wouldn't want a young child to fret over getting sick and wonder if he or she was going to die like the grandparent did.

    "Cancer" is just a name for a particular kind of sickness, which differentiates it from things like "ear infection" and "cold." I always said those names, too, not to complicate things, but so the kids would learn the difference.
  29. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

    Eek. And ick. What was she thinking? (And, one has got to ask -- did he know she had kids?)
  30. AliasJohnDoe

    AliasJohnDoe Headcase Addict

    I personally don't have kids, but I have 2 nephews and 3 nieces...all teens.

    Any family secrets they want to know, they always come to me. They know they'll get the truth.

    Beware of the Black Sheep Uncle!!!