I grew up as one of those kids and I learned some pretty unhealthy patterns. Cause and effect was always blurred as my parents tried to “do what was right for the kids”. I would have given anything to see a loving marriage with healthy boundaries. Understood the truth of all of what was going on around me. I hate being lied to or shielded from reality to this day. The attempts to “protect” aren’t honest and when they mature and understand this, they get to carry some of the guilt for their unhappy parents. Own your stuff and show them how to deal with it in healthy, kind and responsible way. Give that to your kids...please. The damage is done.
This is very, very true. It is hard to figure out how much kids should know based on their ages, etc. but hiding everything does as much damage from what I've seen as parents telling too much. When my daughter was middle school we went through a devastating business failure and her Dad had a very serious cancer scare. We tried to shield her from as much as possible. We thought we were being good parent. Unfortunately she sensed the undercurrents - the disappointment, shame, fear and desperation - but had no context or reason for it - so like kids do... she decided it must have something to do with her. It wasn't until years later when our "perfect" daughter developed a serious eating disorder that she (and we) realized how much she had internalized during that time. If we had been more open and honest with her about what was happening, it could have led us to grow closer and more supportive of one another. But our approach ended up creating a facade that was built of a vague sense of distrust for her... she knew that we loved her - but she also knew we were not always being honest. So while I think you have to tread carefully to share in an age-appropriate way - pretending for the kid's sake never works long term. As for the visitation boundaries - this is hard. The best thing to do is take your WW out of the equation - she's already put her needs first before her kids. Try not to the same in your pain and anger. Decide what would be best for the kids. And then act on that - whether it benefits or hurts your wife. If you put their interests first, you won't regret it - not in the long run. They will be grateful later in life for not putting them in the middle and having to chose sides.
BS - Female
Married 27 years, one adult child DD May 2016 “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” - V Frankl