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Laminar
Dec 11, 2006



edit.

Laminar fucked around with this message at 18:12 on Feb 1, 2021

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Laminar
Dec 11, 2006



Hello,

I've posted in this thread before, but usually delete what I write after a few days. I've been estranged from my entire family for quite some time (mothers side from when I was 12, fathers size for the last 5 years or so). It stems from the typical things, abuse, trauma and the like. I'd say based on the stories I've read in this thread I'm a bit on the extreme side of things.

When I had my children, I cut off contact with my fathers side completely, as I wanted to protect them. It frankly has been great. They found where I lived from tax records several years ago and occasionally send letters (which I trash) but otherwise they have no way to contact me.

My issue is now my children want to know about my childhood. They don't really know anything about my childhood, not even my parents names or that I had siblings.

How do I address it? It is mostly natural questions about where I am from, and the like. They are very involved with my partners family, and have just now realized it is weird I don't have any.

My concern is that they will be naturally interested in my family, and I don't want to give my family access to my girls at all. They can't be trusted.

Any resources people can point to? My therapist has been not the most helpful about how to handle this (just tell them you don't talk to your family). No five year old will take that as an answer.

Laminar
Dec 11, 2006



Uncle Enzo posted:

My father was a butterfly when he was growing up. That was the answer I got my whole life until just a few years ago. "What about when you were little daddy" "I was a butterfly". I saw my paternal grandparents maybe 13 times in my whole life, I'm 36 and they only died last year. My aunts and uncles on that side I've seen maybe 3-5 times.

Turns out, my dad had a pretty lovely life growing up, with systematic bullying and abuse out in the world and at home. I wish he had just told us that in an age-appropriate way. It wasn't until I was an adult and very purposefully started digging that I pieced together the truth. Like, it was a long time before I realized the fact that my dad absolutely refused to talk about his upbringing meant that it wasn't just "a painful memory", it was loving torture and he was unwilling and unable to discuss it.

However, my father protected me. He protected my siblings. Not having family on that side was the price we (unknowingly) paid to not be abused. My parents certainly have their problems and growing up we went through some poo poo. My mom is a piece of work too lol. But I am really grateful that my father kept us away, literally thousands of miles away, from his abusers.


So in response to a direct question from your kid, I would propose a direct, truthful, but age-appropriate answer.
"I'm sorry honey, but I can't really talk about when I was little, or about my family growing up. You see, they were bad to me. They hurt me. So when I grew up, I moved away and never spoke to them again."
And when they immediately follow up with "how did they hurt you? Was it on purpose?" Or anything like that, you don't go into any more detail. "Honey, I've told you all I can. When you are older and can understand more, I will tell you more, though I probably can't ever say everything that happened". And assure your child that you are ok now, you love them, and this was all a long time ago and they don't need to worry about it, they just need to work on growing up and playing and reading and being friends with other little boys and girls.

I'm not a therapist, maybe that's not the generally accepted right answer, but speaking as a child of someone who was in a similar position as you, that's what I wish I had been told. I would say obviously don't give any specifics, and don't go on and on about how awful it was our anything. Just say that it was bad and it's not appropriate to talk about with children and you'll give them more info when they're ready.

I appreciate this greatly, and thank you. I think your approach is sound, frankly I just know her follow up questions will hurt as it is stuff I try to never think about.

I'm also looking down the line a decade when I can no longer protect them, and wondering how best to ensure they do not get ensnared. I think your approach of being truthful but age appropriate might hurt now, but mitigate some of my concerns later.

Now to just figure out how to say it.

Laminar
Dec 11, 2006



Rat Patrol posted:

I've heard other people phrase it as a safety thing, if that helps. "We don't see them because they are not nice, and it is not safe to spend time with them." That way they get a sense that it's not just you avoiding the question, but also a matter of you looking out for them, too.

This is the path I think I'm going to go down I think. Appreciate it. I'll let the thread know how it goes.

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