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KhiaKarma's avatar

How would you tell your kids that their dad is in jail for sexual abuse?

Asked by KhiaKarma (4328points) July 16th, 2010

…of their older ½ sister?

difficult converstion to have—any ideas?

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16 Answers

Dutchess_III's avatar

Um. Well, I guess it depends on how serious the charges are. Sometimes people get jailed for “abuse” when it’s not really.

Also, how old are the kids? I don’t think total honesty is necessary all the time for younger children.

Randy's avatar

How old are we talking? The different ways of handling this depend heavily on their age and ability to grasp the situation. Will he be back in their lives after his imprisonment is over?

Edit: I just had an idea. Why not take the children down to see him and let him explain it to them. Obviously, let him know so he can prepare. That way, you’re sorta off the hook and the children can better understand the situation because they get to see it. Children (in particular) are very visual creatures.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Dutchess_III I think people get accused of abuse but if they’re convicted and jailed (with some mistakes possible) I’m thinking they commited it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

This would depend on the age of children – I wouldn’t be explicit or graphic but I wouldn’t lie. I’d say something like ‘Remember how we always discussed that no one has a right to touch you or make you touch them in ways that makes you uncomfortable because this is a wrong thing to do? Well, your father did this to your half-sister and because it is the wrong thing to do, he is now being punished for it. His punishment is to go to jail’.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land thanks, this would, of course, be extremely tough to say

rangerr's avatar

I’m with @Randy on this one. To an extent. He doesn’t deserve to see the kids, but he should be the ones to tell them that he’s in trouble.

When my birth dad went to jail for sexual abuse of me, I was six.
He called and my mom told me he had something to tell me. I don’t remember all of the conversation, but he told me that he was in jail for “abusing his role as a father”. He explained that nobody should be touched inappropriately and that he broke a lot of rules with what he did to me. I still didn’t know anything was wrong with what happened at this time. I understood what he was saying, and didn’t ask any questions after that. I accepted that he broke the law and was in jail for it. I’ve always understood the concept of jail.

But it really depends on the ages of your kids, and how well they handle things.
There’s no definite answer to this. You know your kids better than we do. Every case is different. It’s what you feel comfortable with, and what your children will understand better.

MacBean's avatar

I don’t know how it should be done, but I can give an example of how it shouldn’t.

This was probably ten or so years ago now. My parents and I were visiting my uncle in Virginia. His girlfriend’s daughter and her kids (two sets of twins, ages nine and three) were staying, too. The kids really took to me; I spent two weeks sleeping at the bottom of a dogpile. One night when I was trying to get the older twins to go to sleep, or at least to talk a little softer so they didn’t wake the younger twins, the boy asked me, “What’s rape?” ...What the hell? I was fifteen or sixteen years old. I was not equipped to educate a nine-year-old on this subject. But I had to say something. “Where’d you hear about that?” I asked. Apparently, his mother had told him his father was in jail for rape and she hadn’t explained it further. I told him he should ask her to help him understand, and he said he had but she refused. In the end, I told him basically what Simone suggested. He was uncharacteristically quiet the next day.

XOIIO's avatar


Tell them he died. He would deserve it.

Scooby's avatar

Through a social worker! I imagine!! :-/

perspicacious's avatar

It really depends a lot on how old your kids are.

KhiaKarma's avatar

They are not my kids. But their ages range from 6–9 years old. The mom has been tempted to say he’s dead, right now they think he’s in Iraq. They have been asking about him and the mom is not even sure what to do as far as putting up pictures of him up in the house (because of the affect it might have on the ½ sister)

perspicacious's avatar

In that case I think I would tell the children their Dad did a bad thing and was in trouble and would not be with us anymore. They will have questions, but I would try to assure them they we would be fine and that I didn’t want them to hear about it from someone else.

SoOverIt's avatar

I agree with Scooby. A discussion concerning a topic of such magnitude is a very sensitive matter. Children do understand things on a different level according to their age, exposeure, maturity, and cognitive abilties; but I think considering age only is too general. You know your children best, but may not know what they are able to handle. The concept of sex is a very mature concept and introducing that too early can cause devistating consequences- I can only imaging adding abuse (rape, molestation, etc) would further exaggerate the situation. The children love their father and they have the right to do so. Knowing every detail may be too much to take in, and unneccessary. You may be able to expalin to them that daddy had to go away, he still loves you, and perhaps you may decide that you want to take them to see him. But I would get advice regarding how much to explain and how to explain it. This just seems like a “mind blower” to a child of (most ages) regarding someone they love and probably has a hero status in their eyes. Good luck, I wish you the best- the things we go through as a parent!!

NaturallyMe's avatar

I don’t have kids, but i’d imagine that if they’re still really young and can’t appreciate the discussion on a more adult level, i’d just say he’s in jail because he did something bad. Then later when they’re older i’d tell them the truth.

eryn97531's avatar

I dont have to tell them, they already know. My daughter is the victim and will be testifying against him and the boys watched him get arrested. I told them why he was arrested and 4 days later it was all over our local news. The hardest part for the boys is that all of their friends know. What my husband did has been incredibly destructive to our family and it doesn’t bother me to let my sons know how terrible he is.

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