How Do I Tell My Child Their Father Was A Rapist?

ElsaElsa ask the collectiveA mom from California writes:

“I was date raped 15 years ago.
My child is 14 now. He’s the child of my rapist.
I love him more than life itself.
How in the world do i talk to him about what happened to me without hurting him?
He’s growing up so fast.
I had thought I would have put it behind me by now but it still blindsides me.”

I had to think about this for a long time. I was asked, so I’m going to offer my opinion, though I’m not sure anyone will agree with me. In fact some may be enraged.  But this makes it even more important I at least throw this out here so this woman has a full range of ideas…

California mom, you may want to consider not telling him, unless directly asked.  I was able to come to his idea by comparing it to how mothers rarely tell their kids about the pain of childbirth.  We leave this out because talking about it would burden our children which is something to avoid.

In your son’s case, he has his Moon conjunct Saturn in Cancer. This would definitely weigh heavily and perhaps create a deep sense of shame.  Compare that to telling him his father bolted. Is that not bad enough?

I understand you may not be able to avoid telling him. But I would consider this in whatever case.  What happened to you did not happen to him. If you are able to spare him this weight, it might be best that you can do.

I am not suggesting you lie to your child.  But if you can stay on the surface with this, you may spare him tremendous pain which will, in turn, spare you tremendous pain.

As for your chart. Saturn and Pluto will square your 8th house Sun in 2020. Think about putting this trauma to rest, once and for all.

Does anyone else have an idea or anything they can offer?

Have a question about astrology or life? Ask here! Also, please include your location. It adds a layer of interest!


56 thoughts on “How Do I Tell My Child Their Father Was A Rapist?”

  1. I don’t understand why she would even consider doing something so hurtful. It has nothing whatsoever to do with him, how he got here. It’s mind bogglingly selfish, sorry. You want to make him feel guilty for what you went through? How could he not feel burdened? Is she inviting him to visualize her being raped (because that’s inevitable)? Perhaps there’s some long term deep resentment towards her child she’s not acknowledging. Because the impulse to wound a child is absolutely abnormal and rooted in something enraged.
    It’s a funny way to consider treating the child she “loves”.

    1. Yep, I’m in agreement with everyone, not to ever,ever tell. I’m 67 now and my son is an adult yet I am still keeping my secrets about my troubled life and the pain that I have endured.What good would it do for him too know? Absolutely none at all. it’s a heavy burden I carry still to this day but it’s MY burden. NOT HIS. Think about the pain you would be inflicting on your son and the damage to your relationship that could then never be undone.

  2. I understand the impulse to tell the truth, I am very truthful myself, but unless he asks directly pointedly, just leave it with – he was not in the picture.- Elsa is right, that’s painful enough. It’s a good question.

  3. Dear Mom from California
    My heart hurts for you.
    I agree that you should try to avoid telling him, especially considering his Moon/Saturn in Cancer.
    But as Elsa says, maybe he’ll actually ask, and you won’t want to lie to him. Also, truth has a way of coming out. So you need to be ready with a description that won’t destroy him. To work out the how and why of the description, you’ll probably need to clear up your own feelings about the issue. Go for counselling and you’ll both benefit from that.

  4. I would never tell my child. Never ever ever. I would even straight out lie to him if it comes down to it. Get therapy if you need it but DO NOT work out your trauma through your son. It would be such a huge mistake to tell him. So damaging.

  5. I wouldn’t tell him at age 14. If the complete truth needs to come out make it much later when he has established his own life as an adult and hopefully he’s feeling good about the life he has created.

    1. I agree with this approach. I’m a firm believer in telling the truth, even if it hurts. If I found out my mother had kept something like this from me and let me go through life romanticizing my absent father, I’m not sure I’d be too happy! But as Holly says, her son is not ready to handle the truth at the tender age of 14. Keeping something as massive as this a secret is a recipe for disaster. The truth always finds a way out, and in this case when it does, it could be even more damaging!!

      1. but really? what is the motivation behind telling a child this?
        that is the issue here. you dumping your trauma unto him?
        I remember my 2nd ex, he was literally abused terribly, physically and mentally, he turned out really bad. He blamed his mother all his life and all the women in his life, for the mistakes his mother did, was that she dumped on him that his father left them, and she resented him born. that’s what happened to him. my mother and grandmother had met him and thought he had so much potential in him, and he was kind in many waays but behind closed doors he was traumatized so much that he didnt heal from it. some people could never heal.

        1. I don’t mean tell him now, definitely not. But I’d imagine he will start asking a lot of questions the older he gets, and when that time comes, I don’t see how you would avoid the truth without having to seriously lie about it. Of course I wouldn’t want to inflict such trauma on anyone, but I also think keeping secrets and hiding the truth can amount to a betrayal of trust which can be just as damaging if not worse! But that’s just me I guess!

  6. I would never tell my kids something like this. I would take this secret to my grave. I’d do anything to spare my kids something so heavy.

  7. I think you did the right thing Elsa. I’m assuming the child is starting to ask his mother more questions. It would be natural especially for a boy who has never met their farther to start asking questions. I’m not sure if my assumption is right or not, but it would seem like the most likely scenario as to why the mother is asking. HBO recently did a series called “Big Little Lies” based on a novel by the same name. It’s about a mother who was date raped and had a little boy and went out searching for the father. I’m not sure if it would be appropriate or not to suggest to the mother to watch or read, but it may be a way to help her heal.

  8. I didn’t tell my children that I had an early first marriage until my middle child was sixteen and going through a troubling first romance. Until then there was no reason. I had no children with the first husband. No contact, beyond a few distant friends. But when she was questioning herself, I shared my experience that not all first loves are the last one. When her son is older, should he need questions regarding taking responsibility in his own life, living a life of honor, then she may decide if it would benefit him to know.

  9. Never tell him! Period!

    Your pain doesn’t have to become his ever! Be strong and protect him.

    If you are still not coping with the trauma, I would seek help and counseling in private.

    Good luck!

  10. I have a feeling he will want to know sooner or later.
    If so, wait till you both are ready. How you say it is as important as what is said. Carefully consider the words you choose, the phrasing and make it clear that light can come out of darkness.

    Mercury in Libra POV.

    1. I’ve wondered about this. At some point he’s going to ask questions, and I think that’s what this mother fears. Or he may go looking for his birth father once he grows up, to find out the truth. Or someone who knew about the crime might carelessly blurt it to him before the mother has a chance to sit down with him.

      I say this as someone who was conceived of statutory rape. Mom was 15, Dad was 24. (It’s on the birth certificate, I ain’t stupid!) Mom told me and my sister stuff about him on a need-to-know basis. She also didn’t seem eager for us to look for him, so I didn’t. My sister decided, on her own, to hunt him down around the time she turned 30. Basically, we discovered that he was a sweet guy, but not suited for Mom, and not really cut out to raise a family or hold down a job. Should have been a fling, a footnote in her life. She wants to forget him now, so I try not to bring him up. I’m okay with that. I can lay this to rest.

  11. i would never tell my son, especially not at that age. Maybe if he’s in his 30s and keeps asking. I dont know…but if i ever get there, (i’m putting myself in her shoes) then the time would come to make that decision. but never tell him at that tender age when children are still very impressionable and the deep shame will wreck him, may even distance himself from making friends or go into drugs.
    i agree with what Kumquat said above, that why is there this deep need to tell? like to hurt him? to confuse him? let him have his childhood and teenage years, and maybe when they get to that road when he’s finished college or married or when it never comes up.
    and then your son may even find that you are so brave and so loving of a mother that you took care of him and loved him no matter what. because that’s how i see the mother. This story really tears me up.

  12. A few people here have commented suggesting that the writer is experiencing a ‘deep need to tell’ her son, or suggesting she has an impulse to wound her son. I do not understand how that could be gleaned from her words. I see that she is burdened by a secret. Perhaps, too, she is worried that her son will want to know more about his father, or has already expressed a desire to know more. I feel for her dilemma. I can’t say that he will go through his life never needing to know; he may grow equally tortured by the not knowing. I agree that he is too young for such a dark truth, but maybe, one day, he will seek the truth and have the maturity to handle it. I think Californian mum is an absolute hero.

    1. KathyG, you have articulated what I wanted to add to my original comment.
      As far as I can see, only a few important points still need to be made or reiterated.
      The first one is, who else knows of California mom’s ordeal, and can they be relied on to take this secret to THEIR graves?
      The second point is: if her son hears about this from someone else, will be ever forgive his mom for not telling him personally?
      I’m not saying, tell him (ESPECIALLY not at age 14 – good grief!). I’m saying, she needs to get private counselling for herself and the counsellor needs to have a deep understanding of adolescents so that they can work out a plan of action that may or may not be needed at some time.
      An absolute hero, as you said…

  13. Good advice from Elsa. She had the baby in spite of how it happened. She didn’t have to have a child. Now that he is here, spare him that pain. The father wasn’t interested and left. Thats hard enough. Best of luck!

  14. Why should you inflict your long ago pain on a child? Of course, you should not..This is one secret that needs to be carried to the grave.

  15. I would tell the truth when her son is mature enough to understand the matter fully. There is usually a timeliness associated with sharing the facts of this type of conception. I have a girl friend who is born “of a rape”, her adoptive parents told her when she was old enough to understand what it meant and process it without shame. She has grown up to understand sexual violence and become useful and purposeful in working in universities and writing as a journalist about sexual violence. Her Truth is owned by her now, she shares it with close friends whom she trusts. The full power though in my eyes is that, through having been told about her conception, she is able to USE IT through her own life. I’m all for this.

    My own son came into the world through something a little similar. He asked me about his birth father when he was early teens. We shared the truth together, a little bit here and there over time as he could digest it. And wow you want to see him as a delightfully rounded adult of 32 years old. His own wife has a similar background and it has given them a very strong bond together.

    I hope I’m not the only one here who sees the bigger picture.
    the Truth is just so important, it’s the way it is told and the words used, the love which exudes and the fuller meaning of Life which is more important, in my view, than protecting the child just for the sake of protecting. Life through being a Mother or a Son or a Daughter is always part of a Bigger Picture, which rolls out like the ripple in the pond, so to speak. Controlling and protecting can be misunderstood and misused.

    Love, truth and wisdom mixed together make a powerful medicine.

  16. From a guy’s perspective: No. Why?

    He already is dealing with having no father…. and this new info will only trigger one thing: He wasn’t wanted in the first place. Doesn’t matter if you were drunk and out of your mind, or this man had accosted you. Doesn’t matter. It probably will teach him that “his Family Tree” only reproduces by thrusting ((no pun intended)) itself into other’s Lives.

    No young person needs to think that.

    I suggest you simply tell him….. that you will not discuss this at this time, but will when he is older. I recommend sometime after age 25….. because his brain ((science tells us)) has fully matured by then. Plus…. he has lived “out in the real world” and probably has known of someone who has been raped ((or accused of rape)).

    What you can tell him is this…. He is nothing like his father. He has been raised in a loving home with grandparents and other relatives being involved in his life.

    I suspect he has a very close relationship with you. That along is worth it’s weight in Gold.

    Good Luck, California Mom.

  17. I agree with not telling him, and especially not at his age! I couldnt even consider it at his age. It’s complicated, but it’s one of those things where not telling him is for his own good, and he’s just going to have to take your word for it. If that was me, I wouldn’t want to know.

  18. I would want to know. What’s the real harm in knowing? Somehow the person who is raped thinks that pain is or will be the same as the offspring. A person who truly wants to know themselves, their story, would want to know. It’s also not hard to gather DNA evidence for genetic testing. Plus, most people who do physical harm usually have a record for something else. I also believe knowledge like this doesn’t stay a secret.

    1. Well said! I can’t understand how so many commenters here are advising she take this secret to be grave. It is her sons right to know the truth (best not know but eventually). And yes, the truth always comes out. Plus the burden of carrying this secret and the consequences if the son inadvertently ends up finding out could be so much worse. The more things like this are kept secret, the more we encourage the stigma and shame attached to rape victims!

      1. Son living in blissful ignorance not knowing mother was raped and he’s the offspring= bad

        Son living every day terrorized that once again his mother will bring up how she was raped by his father and force him to make it his issue = good.

        Hmmm ok……

        1. I’m with you kumquat. As a mother, if you can shield your child from pain you should. We are there to guide and protect their innocence as long as possible!

          And from the perspective of the child: I’d hate my mom if she told me. My mom has told me several things about my father that I didn’t care to know including the fact that he raped her. It’s just more shit I have to process when she should’ve already processed it within herself. She directed her hatred towards his children. And that is a thing. You have to be very real with yourself when dealing with your children who’s father you have negative feelings about. I know from experience on both sides.

          1. One thing I do wish my mom had not done while I was growing up was wish, out loud, that our stepfather had been our biological father. Like I said before, my birth father was sweet, but he had problems. Mom had no business making babies with a grown man as a teen girl. That fact actually doesn’t bother me as much as the fact that she kept telling me and my sister that she would rather have had her first two kids with someone else. In a way, that’s an insult to our DNA! And our heritage! No matter how a child is conceived, all they really need to know is that they’re loved–just as they are. Roots and all.

          1. @gemini7, my husband says, to me, “keep it to the grave.” and dont tell anyone if you dont want it going back to your child. So i guess bear your burden alone and be strong, and use your energy to love and care for your child. so basically keep your mouth shut. i can keep alot of secrets, but some i can’t. like talking about my ex’s and my experience, so i can relate to other’s pains.

  19. I once heard the best things
    We’re unspoken
    UseBML to know you are
    Taking this bull by the horns riding the days into sunsets
    And it will be seen how strong
    In love you are
    Not how you spell it out

  20. Wouldn’t tell him unless directly asked, specifically, how he was conceived, and even so, I would “minimise”(be as neutral as possible).
    It’s one thing to ask about who you father is, where he is, why isn’t he around, what’s his activity etc. But another to give information that isn’t specifically asked for.
    If there are people/family who know about the cicumstances of his conception, he might find out indirectly, some day, for whatever reason, but I’m not sure that’s a reason to anticipate this by telling him first.
    Some mention that his mother’s lying (by ommission) would cause him to doubt his mother forever. I’m not sure about that. I think it’s natural to want to avoid burdening your child with painful facts, and it’s excusable. I think the son could understand and accept that his mother could do this to protect him.
    Blue-rose’s testimony is interesting in suggesting that the worst isn’t always to come. I guess it depends on how things are explained and how good/trusting is the relationship between mother and child. (Which seems to be the case with California Mom?)
    It’s difficult to judge from the question whether her son is already in doubt, or if this her own preoccupation? (which is quite understandable)

  21. I just want to say the idea that a son not forgive his mother for trying to spare him, seems erroneous to me. It’s possible but very unlikely for a son to hold something like this against his mother.

    Also, I’m old enough, I’ve realized that kids are not necessarily interested in their parents lives when they are trying to get and keep their own life together. Again, there are exceptions, but it is not uncommon for a kid to be uninterested in their parents (especially about sex) until much later in life.

    Having their own kids might get them interested, or when a parent dies, they might wish they’d asked some questions or paid more attention.

    I definitely don’t think that boys are interested in hearing anything sexual about their mother. I am not saying that rape is sex, I am saying it’s easy to overshare.

    Your kid can get along without knowing everything about you. His or her life is not about you, anyway. I really think it’s best to should as much of the burden yourself. It’s better for you and for your kid. Generally speaking, this is.

    1. That’s what I was thinking. Better from the horse’s mouth. Finding omissions on my own would make me doubt everything else I’d ever been told. How would it be if someone else let the cat out of the bag one day? It’s either a ticking time bomb or a dead horse.

  22. I honestly don’t know what I would do. I can understand wanting to tell him. The mother probably feels guilty in the sense that she can’t give her child a good explanation for his fathers absence. She may feel that her not having a good enough explanation hurts her relationship with her son, especially the older he gets. Teenagers naturally pull away some anyway, and she may wonder if it would bring them closer if she told the truth. I don’t know what she should do. I’d hire a good shrink.

  23. Do not say anything in my opinion. Some things you take to the grave- period. Keep the hurt- it is not his. You will give him an unfair burden to carry in his mind forever… why?

  24. Ya, uh tell a person who is adult-like. Not a child.

    For instance, my mother had a troubled life, but I didn’t know much until I was in my late teens, 20 or something, and she was hard to live with because she was abusive to her kids and to herself, over using particular drugs etc. Finding out why really helped for several of us to forgive her. A younger sibling of mine found themselves in a troublesome mind state to where they needlessly became aggressive & dismissive towards people, and having hateful emotions towards out mother, but discovering her very personal history really allowed for another large step in my siblings healing as well.
    I’m not advocating to tell a child, but when two mature people are able to relate and ease ones strife, something like rape shouldn’t get in the way.
    What I don’t understand is the assumption of giving someone trouble or pain. I’ve learned that it’s relieving to let go of past events by speaking of them, and that the person receiving is usually grateful for such moments. It allows them to grow and realize that they too can have strength to move forward in several ways.
    To me, this is a case by case scenario, and that holding it in is a short-term solution. Never healthy. Your kid one day is gonna ask, and ask again, and that energy will be felt. Better practice that lie a lot. I don’t know of anyone who can constantly lie for a lifetime and still have the same “act”. Well, those without psychological ordeals.

    1. I see what you are saying but this is something that just happened in her past before his conception. His conception itself was a traumatic event for his mother. That’ll lead to guilt and all kinds of other disturbances on his part. It’s one thing to tell your grown kids the trials you’ve been through but it’s a whole different thing when you’re telling your grown kids that they were part of it. I see a really big distinction between the two.

      1. IDK, I’m not one who thinks I will know how the person would feel knowing such information. That to me is projecting.
        And the child is the result of the trauma, not why the trauma occurred. That child has nothing to do with why or how the trauma occurred. I find that to be false.

        1. It’s also projecting to think that it’ll be positive. No one can know but why take the chance? Also I think there are some psychological processes that are universal and not that varied. The whole principle of psychology is based on that idea. The mind is really just a mechanism.

          And yes it’s true that the child has nothing to do with why or how the trauma occurred but in the psyche and heart of the child (I’m saying child but even as an adult), the trauma and his existence are intimately linked. He or she might even be able to rationally see that the two are separate but the subconscious holds onto things like that as definitions and subtle belief patterns.

          At any rate, I wish this mother love and healing. I hope whatever decision she makes is one that brings peace and joy to her and her son.

  25. Hmmm … I see you posted this on 7 November. Apparently, most of these respondees missed the whole thing about women coming-out and saying “Me, too!”
    Granted, not every rape leads to having a child, but from my observation, most of the women that I know of who have been raped, and I do know a lot of women who have admitted to being raped, have problems with their self-worth as individuals. And if you are a sensitive person, you tend to pick-up on those feelings of self-lack that emanate from a woman with a low-opinion of herself.
    I was married to a woman who had told me that when she was only 8 yrs old, her 14 yr old brother had repeated forced her to have sex. Of course, she never told anyone in her family, but she did tell me. When I first met her family, and that brother, I was appalled by the way the family interacted. At the dinner table, her father and rapist brother were constantly sharing “funny” sex jokes. But to me it was not funny, and very sickening. In some ways, I wish she had never told me what had happened, because it prevented me from liking her family. Oh, and incidently, her dad was also a Methodist minister. Days before he passed away, he revealed that he had a hidden “library” of pornography. Guess who took those items and kept them? You got it, the older brother!
    And when it comes to therapy, for some people that may work, but for many people it does not. If therapy is going to work, the person (my ex, in this case) needed to be honest with herself. But she could not. Even though she had told me about this, she could not admit it to her family, and it created a situation where she and I were unable to get along sexually. At therapy (which lasted 6 years), it was me who first brought this incident up for the therapist to know about, and the therapist was totally ineffective in being able to help the poor woman. She ended up taking antidepressants and a few other meds to deal with her issues, and I ended up divorcing her.
    From my observations, kids are a lot smarter and more adaptive to situations than adults give them credit for. And for a mother to torment herself her whole life to me is unthinkable. Kids feel that. “Yeah, something is wrong with mom, but I’m not sure what it is.” Even if it just the kid thinking that mom is crazy or neurotic, they know – they know that something is not right.
    As you can probably tell, I am all for telling the TRUTH. Carrying secrets with yourself to the grave are not going to help you or the other person. Astrologically, with Pluto in Capricorn, all of these old emotionally repressed demons must be released and brought forth into the Light! Otherwise, the wheel of karma just continues.

  26. Elsa—

    In response to your question re the mom & son who was a child of rape…..One of my sons dated a woman whose mother told her she was a child of rape ( at age 17)

    It TOTALLY changed who she was & not in a good way. She talked to me about it once ( he dated her when she was in her mid twenties) and she couldn’t put into words his worthless it made her feel, like there was something bad & illegal about her very cells. ( she tried to commit suicide 3x over a period of 5 years that my son dated/ lived with her)

    To the mom of this situation: Please please, don’t tell that child he’s a child of rape. Make up a story if you have to, claim he bolted when he found out you were pregnant…

    And get yourself some help, so you can be there as the loving mama that you obviously are..

  27. Let me share my experience. In my twenties my mother told me that her episiotomy was very painful and still bothers her to this day . The episiotomy the doctor gave her when I was delivered. It weighs on me. I

    I did not need to know it was between her and her doctor I was neithet the Cause nor the Remedy and I don’t need the burden.

    Do not tell him. I had an experience that affected me profoundly. Give him a chance at a normal life.

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