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what would you do?

(30 Posts)
ellie50 Thu 27-Sep-12 18:04:55

i have not discussed this with anyone before but one family member was aware at the time.
i feel i need an unbiased view and decided that the gransnetters were the people to go to.
when i was married my husband had several affairs and produced a so with one of the girlfriends. we separated not long afterwards and as our own children were of an age where they understood what was happening, they were not told about the child.
i felt that they had enough trauma to deal with without being told ALL the details. when the divorce was finalised my ex husband rewrote his will, and i said that as he had another son our children would need to know. his response was very negative and he would not discuss it.
out of misplaced loyalty or i don't know what, i never mentioned it again. maybe i was wrong.
over the years i have struggled with that decision because rightly or wrongly i feel they have a right to know of their brother.
my dilemma is, should i tell them? (they are in their thirties), is it really fair given the possible fallout and is it my place?
i have felt really guilty even though it wasn't me who did the deed, but they have been deceived.
they both have a good relationship with their father and i don't want to destroy it.
i would really appreciate some honest opinions from you grans out there. thankyou

whenim64 Thu 27-Sep-12 18:16:41

ellie what a difficult position to be in. What has stopped your ex from explaining to the children that there is another brother? He is the one who has put you all in this position, but now someone needs to explain to your children. I think they are entitled to know about this son, so they can make an informed decision about whether they want to make contact. Likewise, this brother is entitled to know. He might already know and decide one day to seek them out.

Are you in touch with your ex now, and would he be prepared to discuss the matter with you? There are ways of broaching such sensitive subjects without creating family breakdown. They might already suspect something, you just don't know until this issue is dealt with. Good luck, whatever you decide.

Greatnan Thu 27-Sep-12 18:16:50

Won't they need to know if their half-brother is included in their father's will?
They are probably old enough now to be able to cope with the knowledge and may even form a relationship with him. In general, I have found that secrets will out and being honest is the best policy. You could tell your ex that you think they should be told, and if he won't tell them, you will.

soop Thu 27-Sep-12 18:17:08

ellie50 I feel that your adult children should be told that they have a half brother. As they are close to their father, they will no doubt have mixed feelings. However, they are adult and will hopefully react in a positive way once they recover from the initial shock. I sympathise with you. I wish you and your family a satisfactory outcome.

annodomini Thu 27-Sep-12 18:21:56

What happens when he dies and the will becomes public? They will find out then the existence of a brother. The dilemma for you is that it's not really your place to tell them. Whom will they blame for being kept in the dark, especially when they realise that you were in the picture all the time? Do you speak to your ex? If you are on speaking terms, it would be right to point out to him that they will find out when dies and that it would soften the blow if he broke it to them gently sooner rather than later.

Ana Thu 27-Sep-12 18:27:24

I don't think it's clear that the other son is named in the ex-husband's will - ellie50 just says that he rewrote it, which is natural after a divorce. If he is included, then I agree with what others have said, it's not fair to leave you to bear the brunt of whatever your children's feelings may be if they only discovery the existence of their half-brother after their father's death.

JessM Thu 27-Sep-12 18:29:23

Yes it is really his secret isn't it. You imply that he asked you not to discuss this with the children at the time. I think you could mention to him that it would be better if he told them, and then stop worrying about it.
Is it worrying you a lot - reading between the lines, you sound a bit more anxious about it than one might expect.

johanna Thu 27-Sep-12 18:38:55

Have you thought it might be possible that they DO know, but think that YOU do not? So all are tiptoeing around one another?

Bags Thu 27-Sep-12 18:41:49

In your position, ellie, if I felt my offspring should know about a half-brother, I would just tell them. I would not worry about whether my ex-husband wanted them to know. If I thought it was the right thing to do, I'd do it, especially if I felt guilty about not doing it sooner. I'm sorry if that's not much help but my feeling is "get rid of the guilt which you shouldn't be feeling anyway." The affairs and the extra child were not your fault but did affect your life. You have every right to talk about them.

Any fallout should be with the father, not you, but after the first surprise, I don't see why there should be any. They might even be delighted to find they have a new relation.

All the best.

JO4 Thu 27-Sep-12 19:01:38

I would think that, if your children already know about the affairs your husband had, then the knowledge that they have a half brother would not come as too much of a shock to them.

If they have forgiven their father for his treatment of you, would the existence of a son from one of these affairs make him out to be any worse in their eyes?

Like Bags said, they might be pleased.

Faye Thu 27-Sep-12 19:46:23

ellie your children have a right to know and I would telly them. They may find out sooner if their brother contacts them first and you know what they will say, "why didn't you tell us?"

Ana Thu 27-Sep-12 20:00:12

Why do they have a right to know? I'm not trying to be controversial here, but I'm not convinced, and I'd be interested in others' views.

Faye Thu 27-Sep-12 20:15:05

Because it is their brother, he is part of their family, whether they want to acknowledge him or not.

Faye Thu 27-Sep-12 20:18:28

Sorry, he not it. Also my ex father in law was not told who his father was, his mother was unmarked. His older sister told him he didn't need to know, even though she knew. Why did she have the right to know something about his family and he didn't. Who was she to decide!

Bags Thu 27-Sep-12 20:21:23

I understand what you're saying, nag, I think. And I think it's fine to question their 'right' to know about their sibling. However, their mother does have a right to tell them. She is under no obligation to tell them, but neither is she under any obligation not to tell them. My view is why be secret about something when there is no need for secrecy? Of course, there may be a need for secrecy, for all we know, but it doesn't seem so from the story so far, only that the father didn't want to talk about it. Well, tough luck for him. It's not only his secret. Other people were and are involved and can talk if they want to.

whenim64 Thu 27-Sep-12 20:22:23

Ana children have a right to know where they fit within a family and who their relatives are, as part of the development of their identity, sense of security about their family, especially trust for their parents, and at its most basic, being sure who they should and shouldn't have intimate relationships with. A child is entitled to know who has fathered him, and this brother might innocently start researching his familly history and discover siblings that had been kept secret from him for no good reason. Why hurt these people unnecessarily? They can make an informed decision when this secret is out.

Bags Thu 27-Sep-12 20:22:44

Still don't understand why they weren't told in the first place.

Ana Thu 27-Sep-12 20:55:53

Yes, Bags, I think that's what I was getting at. Of course it's ellie's choice whether to tell her own children about their brother or not, and perhaps we don't know the whole story.
when I do agree of course with what you say about children needing to know their place in the scheme of things, but these young people are all in their 30s now so it's not quite the same.
Good luck, ellie, whatever you decide to do. smile

Gagagran Thu 27-Sep-12 21:09:59

Could it be that the children already know about their half brother but think that their Mum, Ellie doesn't and are saying nothing to protect her? Maybe their dad told them but said not to tell their Mum.

whenim64 Thu 27-Sep-12 21:18:43

Ana no, it's not the same learning the truth about the makeup of one's family as an adult, but still important, and no-one has the right to deny these siblings this information.

specki4eyes Thu 27-Sep-12 22:45:05

Ellie I would tell them - they are mature adults now and have a right to know. Others have pointed out that if they find out after he has died and their reaction is negative, you will bear the brunt of it when it is not your fault. I agree. Give your ex a deadlined opportunity to tell them but say that if he does not, you will. I once kept something from my sons, being afraid to upset them and when they found out they were angry with me for keeping it to myself.

ellie50 Fri 28-Sep-12 00:38:04

gosh i have just come in to find all the replies. thankyou everyone for your comments,they really reinforce what i should have done a long time ago.
the background was that the girlfriend was also married and having fertility treatment. it was a very messy situation as they were supposedly friends who we socialised with. the husband was unaware of the goings on as was i at the time.
my husband only confessed when she was due to give birth and they were planning to move in together. needless to say it didn't work out and they went their separate ways, as did we.
the reason our children weren't told was, as i said earlier. on reflection though that decision was wrong. it was however made during a time of emotional turmoil and upset. i had to concentrate on bringing up the children on my own and holding down a fulltime job. life takes over and i guess i just buried the whole sorry business.
i have very little contact with my ex apart from the usual milestones of births, weddings etc. when we do meet its polite but cool. i can only guess why he hasn't said anything but i can be certain he hasn't because they would tell me. they have been fairly forthright in their comments about his previous affairs.
it all came to a head for me recently because i was at my daughters and we were watching the programme "who do you think you are". as i have now retired she asked if i could start doing our family tree!

whenim64 Fri 28-Sep-12 01:00:14

ellie that suggestion of doing a family tree would be a good opener for this sensitive discussion. I hope it works out well for you and your family x

Faye Fri 28-Sep-12 01:29:05

Haha, I reread what I wrote, teach me to write on my iPad while still in bed and it's early morning and still dark. I meant my father in law's mother was unmarried not unmarked.. Autocorrect does it again... confused

POGS Sun 30-Sep-12 12:36:24


I think there have been some very valid points already raised, so I shall be brief. I feel very sorry for your circumstances but I would definately tell them.

I would think there maybe a point when it all comes out in the wash anyway. You may find your children will be upset and hurt but not as much as they would be finding out through a will. They may need some closure on your breakup too and they are now old enough to handle things. Will it not be a cathartic exercise for you too?. Surely you have been a good mum over the years and I am sure they will see your predicament and accept it was only because you were putting them first whilst growing up that has sadly put you in this dilemma. Good luck.