Author Topic: Do I tell them who their father really was...  (Read 1757 times)


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Do I tell them who their father really was...
« on: June 07, 2016, 09:13:40 AM »
I came from a divorced family.. my Mother and Father bashed each other to us every chance they got.. it made us kids feel like crap.. we loved our parents no matter what they were.. I swore I would never do that to my kids no matter what.. that being said.. in this case.. I don't know if "glorifying" my husband is hurting my kids more then the ugly truth would.

My husband left this earth by his own hands.. yes he was a disabled vet and yes he had PTSD.. but when he left we were at a stand off... He had a dependency on pain medication.. (PTSD + opiate dependency = a living hell).. it was becoming dangerous for my children and myself to be around.. he fell asleep at the wheel driving my kids to school..  he got into a physical altercation with my oldest son (at the time he was 17).. I put my foot down and demanded him to get help.. gave him an ultimatum.. to get help or I would have to move on.. he threatened to blow my brains out.. and I believed him.. so many times you hear of murder suicide especially with vets.. I was scared to stay and scared to leave.. it was a bad environment for all of us.

My then 9 year old daughter saw the things he was doing wrong and stood up to him and what she believed he was doing wrong.. she verbally expressed to him that she did not agree with what he was doing and that she would not lie for him about his growing (now visible to the kids) problem.. same for my then 17 year old (hence the physical altercation).. (and yes.. I feel like a shitty parent for allowing it to get this bad).. but then there is my (at the time) 11 year old son who idolized him... in his eyes my husband did no wrong.

I will not bash my husband to them.. even while this was going on I didn't.. I just told them that Daddy needed help.. they do not know he threatened me.. I don't think they remember or chose to remember the way he would talk to me when he was out of medication.. it was horrible!  I talk him up.. tell them all the great things he did.. after all.. they are half him.. if I say how bad or horrible he was then that's telling them that they are part bad.  As time goes on (the 21st of this month will be 14 months).. My now 12 year old son still gets really upset and cries that he misses him.. my daughters grieving has lessened.. I know everyone is different and grieves differently.. but his seems to be going in the wrong direction.. he's grieving more.. he's only remembering the great.. wonderful things..  almost fantasizing that he was this great Dad that took him fishing, camping and all that "guy" stuff he promised to do but never did.  I don't know if I let that continue.. or correct it.. I don't know if allowing it to continue will hurt him or help him.  Should I tell him what he really was or let him think he was this great guy.. or will he eventually remember and figure it out on his own.. like my oldest son did about his step-father and  biological dad (who was physically abusive.. I would never talk bad about my ex to my son and to this day I try to get my son to have a healthy relationship with his father).. God I suck at picking the right person for me.. or maybe it is me that's the problem.

« Last Edit: June 07, 2016, 09:23:20 AM by April »


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Re: Do I tell them who their father really was...
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2016, 02:40:34 PM »
Should I tell him what he really was or let him think he was this great guy.. or will he eventually remember and figure it out on his own..

Yeah April – that’s a tough one isn’t it?

In my case, I have not gone into too much detail describing my late wife’s failings. She was not, by my measure, a great mom due to her illnesses. She could be violent, unpredictable and inattentive and I too worried at the end if it was even safe to leave the kids with her alone.

If my boys described things that were not correct about their mom I might say something like "J., that's not how it was." and leave it at that. You know, just the bare minimum. But my boys are older that your 12 year old. If they were 12, I might say nothing at all and leave it for another day. I honestly don't know.

I choose to believe my late wife loved her boys as best as she could even though she put them through hell.  :-\

Maybe that is enough. Who knows what is best.

Good luck - Mike
The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped. (Proverbs 11:25)


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Re: Do I tell them who their father really was...
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2016, 03:04:09 PM »
Thanks.. I'm thinking of calling up our grief counselor and asking him.. My son just seems to be regressing.. last week he started balling in the car and asking when he was going to be able to see his dad again.. like we were going through shock and denial all over again.. over a year later.  That and hows he's grieving a man he was not.. he's grieving all the should haves.. that my husband promised to do but really was never going to do.. not because he didn't want to.. but because he just physically couldn't.. I just don't know.. maybe if I simply remind him that's not how things were.. not going into great detail.. maybe that would be enough.. maybe it would stop him from grieving this fantasy dad he has created him to be.

It could also be the 12 year old horrormons.. I don't know.. he's just extra irritated at everyone.. extra upset about his dads passing.. it doesn't help he's usually the only boy in the house.. my 19 year old son is never home.. so he's stuck with his Mom and 2 sisters.. I guess it has been getting a little worse since wrestling camp ended.. I can't wait for football to start!!  He just needs that guy time!! 

« Last Edit: June 07, 2016, 03:06:37 PM by April »


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Re: Do I tell them who their father really was...
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2016, 10:15:47 PM »
I think it's a personal choice based on different circumstances. My kids were all under it was easier for me to mold their Dad only to remember the positive.

The last 6-9 months were sheer you I worried about our safety and I actually took the kids and stayed with my folks right after my daughter was born because I feared for our safety. And actually...he stopped by the house after buying the gun/ammo and planned to kill us all. But we weren't home. To this day I can't remember where we were.

However...the 10 year we were together he was a great Dad, husband, provider. No mental illness. I chose to remember that part and that's what I share with the kids. They do not know totally how bad he was..or him stopping by. They don't even know he died on one of my kids bday. They think he died the day I found the body.

That's just too much for young kids to bear. But my circumstances (their ages) allowed me too. It's tough all the way know your kids and personalities better than anyone. ((((hugs))))) It's such a traumatic situation. You need to make sure you try to take care of you. Your plate is full and you had trauma before and after his death.
B.W.H. 9/24/2007


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Re: Do I tell them who their father really was...
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2016, 02:24:49 AM »
My oldest was 17 when DH died (he was her stepfather, her father died before she ever got a chance to meet him) and she was generally the catalyst for his more violent outbursts. My son was only 10 and doesn't remember and/or wasn't present for these outbursts; because of this, my son and my daughter have very different memories of the same man.

After every incident, the docs at the VA would increase his medication and we would have a year or two of relative peace before the next incident. The last incident resulted in an overnight stay courtesy of the county sheriff and anger management classes for him and a 6 week stay at a barely tolerable one-room studio with only a mini-fridge and hot plate for a kitchen for myself and my daughter. There is a part of me that is relieved that the inevitable escalation has been permanently averted...but at such a high cost.

My son will eventually learn the truth that his father was far from perfect; chances are good that he will hear it from his sister and probably sooner than I would like, but she has managed to hold her tongue for now.  When he begins to ask me questions about his Dad's issues, I will tell him the truth: that he was a good man that was forced to survive under horrific conditions at the tender age of 19, and his experiences permanently changed how he related to others...and not for the better.


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Re: Do I tell them who their father really was...
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2016, 07:47:45 AM »
Thank you for your replies..

Sugarbell.. that is so scary!!  Thank God you guys were not home!!  That's the exact thing I was so afraid of happening and why I "put up" with it for so long.. I knew he was a ticking time bomb and I held the detonator.. I knew as soon as I let go.. all hell was going to break loose.  Things find a way of coming to a head and then it's completely out of anyones control.

Twistedmensa.. I and my oldest feel the same.. It was bad.. and getting much worse very quickly.. we're glad the madness is over.. but "at such a high cost".. my son even said.. "IT WASN'T WORTH HIS LIFE!!" .. He fought with him right before he committed suicide.. he feels responsible for his death.. "if he didn't have that fight.. he would still be here".. of course I never felt that way.. and tell him Daddy's problems were far beyond that one argument... that he probably saved his brother and sisters from getting killed in a car crash..  I wound up having to get my son emergency services.. it's just too much for a teenager to carry.. I wish it was me who broke the camels back.. I was the one who should have enforced him to get help before something happened.. but was too afraid to.. I knew once I took steps to make him get help it was going to be bad.. He had an appointment with a therapist the next day. 

My oldest is doing better.. he's destroyed a beautiful 1990 ford bronco mudding in the woods (his therapy) lol  He plans on going into the military after graduation.. and I'm afraid of him suffering from the same fate.. Kids.. they think they are invincible and that it's not going to happen to them.. I was hopping my husbands death would change his mind about the military.. it only re-enforced it.

I'm sorry both of you had to go through all of that  :(   but I'm glad you and your children are ok.. we're all going to be ok <3


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Re: Do I tell them who their father really was...
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2016, 01:04:54 AM »
Hi April. I am also a survivor of the war at home. My husband served in the USMC during the 2003 iraq invasion. By all accounts he came back a changed man...for the worse. I entered his life after it fell apart. That's a story for another day.

His mental state deteriorated over the years. For the first three years I was with him, he was terrifyingly violent. I am sure you are one of the few who know what the "DI voice" is and will never be able to forget it. So things as they were I came to see that most likely I would die at his hands. Fortunately a miracle came for us in the form of medication. Medication for his ptsd totally eradicated the violence and we enjoyed an unexpected peace in our home and marriage.

Like twisted mensa, the peace for my husband lasted as long as the medication did. His body metabolized meds FAST so our cycles of increasing medications was every few months. And in the last nine months of his life he had cycles through a few different TYPES of meds too....and had most recently added buspirone. He had been struggling big time, and I watched him cry and wail and sob (drunkenly) about what he endured in Iraq. I get teary just remembering seeing his pain. Well, Anyway. His violence had been addressed but not his will to live or lack of meaning in life. So he let go.

April I will never forget the horror and pain of those unmedicated years, and also the times his meds wore off and was due for an increase. I still have nightmares. He was never physical with his son, and his son never saw the physical with me. But his son still heard some crazy sh*t a kid shouldn't earlier years he himself was treated as a marine corps recruit instead of a son. I am not in contact with his 15yr old son. I will be one day though and I know there will be discussions of what happened. I am prepared to answer to him with honesty. I will be accountable to all that I did and did not do.
Not knowing the focus of my step-son memory, it is imperative that he one day has a balanced view of his dad. His dad was a very good man and won the favor of all in his squadron. The list of documentable good deeds is long. But yes, his dad was injured in Iraq. He was a psychiatric casualty..... In his own words, his soul died in Iraq and only his body came home. When the boy is old enough, he can understand this and form his own conclusions of his dad.

I say, if your son remembers his dad as golden.....let him. Honor that place he is in. But when he gets older he will be mature to balance a more comprehensive image of his dad in his mind. He has to get there at his own rate.