Gransnet forums


Choosing between my children

(64 Posts)
Nonnak Tue 03-Jan-23 12:15:17

When my son was 7, my then 12 year old daughter sexually assaulted him, he did not tell me about this until my daughter left home at 16. They are now grown up, 27 and 32. I had an amazing relationship with my son but was not in touch with my daughter for some years the just sporadically. We became close again when she became pregnant with my granddaughter, now 15 months old and she now spends lots of time with us, my granddaughter has been such a blessing. My some moved to America 5 years ago and is happily married, no children yet. Until very recently I kept my relationship with his sister a secret as I was a avoiding upsetting him however it was becoming harder to hide so told him. He has now said I must choose between him and his sister, that he can't have a relationship with him if his sister is in my life. I love them both so much and have developed a close relationship with my granddaughter and have no idea what to do. I feel like my son deserves support it I also have guilt about my daughter as I feel I should take some responsibility, I was the one who raised her. She is an absolutely amazing mother, puts me to shame and she is doing a wonderful job of raising her daughter. I believe that she is a good person who did a terrible thing. I can't talk about this to anyone I know and I feel like I am backed into a corner. I can't stop crying, my heart is breaking.

Chestnut Tue 03-Jan-23 12:27:25

This must be so heartbreaking and I really feel for you. However, I think the choice is clear. Your son is in another country with no children as yet. Your daughter and granddaughter are near you and you have a close relationship. So you must choose your daughter over your son. Explain that you love him and this is not what you want, but you can't abandon the other two. Maybe he will agree to keep in touch by phone or video calls, just to keep in contact with you but without involving your daughter. See if he will agree to that. I hope he will and I can't see why not.

Hithere Tue 03-Jan-23 12:53:08

Did your daughter receive any kind of treatment for this sexual assault?
Did your son?
Did you?

As for your daughter being an amazing mother.... not sure what to think.

I detect favoritism between them in your post

I understand your son's ultimatum.
It is hard to have a relationship with a person who supports the offender

Picking now based on who has kids now or who lives where are bad parameters.

I would expect your son distance from you, including when kids come

ElaineI Tue 03-Jan-23 13:16:26

This is obviously very hard for you. Your son disclosed this to you when his sister left home 4 years later and you probably should have acted at that point and reported it so both could get some help. Your son probably feels betrayed by you especially as you have kept the relationship with his sister a secret. It sounds like you all need some family therapy to allow things to move forward. Also you have a small granddaughter to think of. Is she at risk? Perhaps you could seek some professional help with this.

silverlining48 Tue 03-Jan-23 13:27:38

I am really sorry fir you and also your son. Your daughter too, as she was also a child, but still she was old enough to know right from wrong.
Children do experiment but if this was ongoing it will have affected him and he probably feels betrayed by her and also by your ongoing relationship with her. I don’t know how this was managed at the time, have you discussed it with her?
As someone who worked in this area for many years I really would encourage you to get some sort of professional help with how to manage this sad and difficult situation and hopefully it will help you too.

silverlining48 Tue 03-Jan-23 13:30:52

Crossed post

Glambert Tue 03-Jan-23 13:33:40

What a dilemma. That's a terrible thing to have happened to a child. But your daughter was a child as well.

I think I would continue to try and have a relationship with both of them. They both need support and you need to be available for your granddaughter.

Nonnak Tue 03-Jan-23 13:53:25


Did your daughter receive any kind of treatment for this sexual assault?
Did your son?
Did you?

As for your daughter being an amazing mother.... not sure what to think.

I detect favoritism between them in your post

I understand your son's ultimatum.
It is hard to have a relationship with a person who supports the offender

Picking now based on who has kids now or who lives where are bad parameters.

I would expect your son distance from you, including when kids come

My son is an amazing young man that I am incredibly proud of! Absolutely no favouritism! I love them both very much. My daughter amazes everyone who knows her with what an incredible mother she is. Shame I wasn't half the mother she is then maybe I would have handled the situation better. If I could go back I would have done things so differently

VioletSky Tue 03-Jan-23 14:03:30

Is there any other sexual abuse in your daughters history? Sometimes that causes children to "play out" abuse in order to normalise it.

Sometimes it's driven by puberty and hormones that are poorly understood.

This is why it's important to teach children about what is and isn't acceptable at every stage of development.

The problem for your son is that the damage done to him is just as bad as it would be if it was an adult. Whatever your daughters reason, whether or not she fully understood what she was doing, your son is the victim here.

As a mother this is incredibly hard for you. You however need to take this ultimatum seriously. This happened under your roof and you missed something that had a deeply harmful impact.

Siding with your daughter here would retraumatise your son and undo whatever healing he has managed.

Realistically everyone needs therapy.

Blondiescot Tue 03-Jan-23 14:06:22

Oh, definitely a dilemma. Obviously you can't erase the past, but I can totally understand how your son feels. I think the suggestion of some kind of counselling or therapy for all parties might help. Has your daughter ever faced up to what she did or been held accountable for it in any way?

Hithere Tue 03-Jan-23 15:28:24


Those people who are impressed at your daughter's motherhood skills, are they aware of the sexual assault?

The comment about how she amazes how such a good mother she is sounds so off to me.
It is as if she needs to be recognized for it - why?

I agree with PPs about if she has faced her actions and reflected on them plus concerns for her kids

The posts come across to me as the damage is to be buried and ignored and move on- this is too serious for rugsweeping

Iam64 Tue 03-Jan-23 16:28:47

Was this a one off incident, was it something forced on your son or some kind of sexual experimentation. I don’t seek to minimise, it’s clearly traumatised your son. You refer to it as a sexual assault, which is his description.

Has it remained a secret, is your daughter aware your son told you when he was 11 and she 16.
Was the distance in your relationship with your daughter the result of the disclosure?
So many things to understand here

I believe professional help is needed. The NSPCC would be one place with expertise and time to help you begin to face this. It isn’t going to go away. In your shoes, I’d seek professional help from people with specialist expertise. I simply can’t imagine being asked to choose one adult child over the other. Your daughter was Five years older but a child herself
Get help

pandapatch Tue 03-Jan-23 17:09:29

What happened when your son disclosed this to you when your daughter left home? 16 is awfully young to leave home - was there some reason for this (had she perhaps suffered from abuse herself?)
It sounds as if there is a lot to unravel and I agree some outside help would be beneficial

Wyllow3 Tue 03-Jan-23 17:25:49

Agree. Have you ever really confronted DD with it, or were just glad when she got back in touch and under the carpet with it? Has she admitted it, shown remorse?

Has she ever thought of apologising? does she know what made her do it?

What about your DH/the childrens father?

It sounds like they are now in competition for you and its so very, very sad. It's built up. He's thought all this time you are "his".

Would he participate in outside help Zooms?

nightowl Tue 03-Jan-23 17:28:22

I agree with the posters who have said this needs professional help. I’m concerned that your daughter abused another child and both needed assessment and help. Children who abuse other children need intervention at an early stage to make sure they themselves are safe and also do not pose a risk to other children. If your daughter did not get this the risks are still there, and I’m sorry but this could include risks to her own child. Please speak to your children about getting someone involved. Iam’s suggestion of the NSPCC is a good one.

Mollygo Tue 03-Jan-23 18:19:16

Can’t add much other than agreeing with the need for support for you.
You said,
but was not in touch with my daughter for some years then just sporadically
Was that lack of communication because you told her what your son had told you? What was her reaction.

M0nica Tue 03-Jan-23 18:54:54

I am absolutely not asking for details of the abuse, but 'sexual abuse' can cover a enormous range of behaviours from a brief touching, to rape or penetration. Did it happen once or many times.

How you respond to this depends on so many details that you should not tell us.

Perhaps, your son is afraid that, as he lives in another country and your DD lives close at hand with your grand daughter that they will be come everything to you and he will be peripheral to the family, so he is protecting himself by being the one to cut himself out.

I see no reason why you should have to choose between the two. Tell your son how much you love him and you will never voluntarilly cut him out of the family, but what ever his sister did, again it will depend on the circumstances, your grand daughter is entirely innocence of any involvement and you wish to keep her in the family.

You need to sit down with your DD and discuss the why's and wherefores of the event, if you have not already done so. perhaps offer to pay for counselling for both children. Perhaps seek it yourself so that you can tell the councillor in private what actually happened and seek their help to reach the decision that is best foreveryone.

Daddima Tue 03-Jan-23 19:09:50

I agree with Hithere, I think to say she ‘amazes everyone who knows her by what an incredible mother she is’ is a very strange thing to say.
I think this isn’t something which can benefit from posts on an internet forum. I’d say professional help would benefit all concerned.

Norah Tue 03-Jan-23 19:15:41


Smileless2012 Tue 03-Jan-23 19:31:59

I agree with Chestnut. Reassure your son of your love for him and that not wishing to stop all contact with your D and your GD is in no way condoning what she did.

I hope he doesn't sever contact with you but if he does, he may think again when he has children of his own and has a better understanding of the impossible request, that asking a parent to choose one child over another isflowers.

Hetty58 Tue 03-Jan-23 19:34:34

Nonnak, if there was no official investigation and support at the time - how do you know the allegation was true? Your keeping it a secret did them no favours. You now have the opportunity to begin resolving the matter. There is no need to choose 'sides' anyway, as they can visit separately.

Norah Tue 03-Jan-23 21:47:49

I'd not want to choose between my children, it makes no sense. Especially not knowing what went on at the time, 20 years ago.

I think I'd reassure my son of my love and tell him I was cutting back on ever seeing GD until this could be sorted in therapy. Otherwise, I think you're placing GD "above" him - unacceptable and unforgivable to me.

mokryna Tue 03-Jan-23 22:15:39

We don’t know the full facts. This was an incident that happened 20 years ago. Surely if the NSPCC, as someone suggested, got involved the daughter could end up having a criminal record for something she did at the age of 12. This could then bring on problems that might have her being separated from her own daughter.

nightowl Tue 03-Jan-23 22:43:16

Would opinions be different if it were a 12 year old boy who had sexually abused a 7 year old girl? I wonder.

25Avalon Tue 03-Jan-23 23:06:31

I was sexually assaulted by my 14 year old brother when I was 7 or 8. It stopped when I threatened to tell mum. I never did however as she thought the world of him then and would have been heartbroken. My dad would probably have killed him.

Your son waited until she had left before telling you. He probably didn’t want to break the family up. I never told a soul until recently when I went on one of the help lines. I did worry when brother’s children were 7 or 8. We are now estranged since he was the sole executor of my mother’s will and I dared to disagree with him. This was several years ago and I live 150 miles away.

I often think of it as I expect your son does. Maybe he is worried for his sister’s children that she might abuse them. I read recently on a helpline that at the age of 12 or 14 children after experiment sexually with a younger sibling as part of becoming sexually aware at that age. Apparently they are unlikely to grow up to be a danger as in your DD’s case. I doubt that your son blames you but he is still living with what happened and it may well have affected his whole life. Perhaps you and he could get some counselling. Idk if it’s wise to confront your dd but again something counselling from one of the child abuse specialist might help.