Life

Ask Fiona: My children are visiting my ex-husband who beat me

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers her perspective on family dramas, emotional issues and dysfunctional relationships

My children knew my ex-husband beat me when we were married but now they are seeing him again and I feel betrayed
Fiona Caine

AFTER a rotten marriage, I divorced my husband and was much happier. That was eight years ago and the children didn't seem to mind or miss him at all. They all knew he beat me and was cruel and seemed pleased their dad was no longer around.

However, about four months ago, my eldest said he wanted to see his dad again. He's 15 now and I felt I shouldn't stop him doing so if it was important to him. Now all three children are seeing their father again.

This is the man who paid me no support for their upkeep and made no attempt to stay in touch with them. I feel so betrayed by my kids – especially as they all know what he was like.

PK

FIONA SAYS: Let them satisfy their curiosity.

You say the children know what he was like, but the eldest was only seven when you separated and the others were younger still. Their memories of this man and the way he behaved won't be the same as yours at all and they are bound to be curious.

However much he was unsuited to parenthood at the time, it's possible he's changed. I'm not for one moment suggesting you should try reconciliation, but try to understand your children are not betraying you, they simply want to know the man.

It may be that at some point he will turn out to be the man you knew him to be and no doubt they will then lose interest. Until then, accept their wish to see him as natural curiosity and don't run him down in front of them because that will only drive them from you.

WHY WON'T YOU PASS ON A LETTER?

There was a letter the other week from someone I really identified with and I would like to write to this person. However, I know you said you don't pass on letters and I wonder if you could explain why.

I am perfectly happy to leave the letter open so you can read it first and I'm a really genuine person who only wants to help.

SJ

FIONA SAYS: I do get many emails and letters from people wanting to contact someone who has written to me, but I'm afraid I will never pass them on. While most of these are probably perfectly genuine, how can I be sure?

I cannot take the responsibility of passing them on because often the people who write are very vulnerable. I am not prepared to take the responsibility of exposing them to any risk, however small, from someone who is not all they appear to be.

For the same reason, I will not pass on details of someone who writes and says "please ask your reader to contact me". I hope you understand and can accept how strongly I feel about the importance of this confidentiality.

If you have a problem you'd like Fiona's advice with, please email help@askfiona.net

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