A: I’m so sorry that you are all going through this. How tragic that basically everyone involved was abused or in fear of abuse. Unfortunately, this pattern is fairly common until someone breaks the silence and adults can intervene. In this case, you are only finding out now that all your children are already adults. The complicating factor is that they are all adults and responsible for themselves now. Of course as their mother you want to help, and they probably still look to you for help and guidance, but ultimately it is their responsibility to get help for themselves.
If you haven’t already, I would educate yourself on the effects of sibling abuse and sexual abuse so that you more fully understand what all your sons (and nephew) are going through. Here’s a good place to start: http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/sibabuse.htm
Next, I would recommend finding a family therapist who also has training in abuse and trauma. You and your husband might want to meet with the therapist first to give some background, but then I would try to arrange some family therapy sessions with all your sons attending. Obviously you may encounter resistance from some or all of your children. I would take the approach that you are recognizing the pain they are feeling and doing what you can to help now. If they won’t agree to meet together, you could meet with them one at a time with the therapist with the goal of breaking the silence, acknowledging what happened and finding a respectful (and safe) way to move forward as a family.
However, I feel compelled to say that you may need to be prepared for the fact that the wounds may be too deep and have been present for too long to fully mend. It may be the case that you will have to have separate relationships with them all, i.e. making different plans for holiday events. Furthermore, if they won’t attend therapy at all, it may still be helpful for you and your husband.
Finally, I am so sorry that your son and his wife lost a child. It is truly a devastating experience to go through, but it is not your responsibility to support them for life. Some people never do the work required to support themselves as long as someone else is willing to do it for them. It may be time for some tough love, and yet again, something a therapist can help you with. I wish you all the best and hope that some deep healing can take place.
Dr. Holly Counts