Jump to content
  • Olivia Sanders
    Olivia Sanders

    Infidelity: Guiding Children Through the Betrayal

    The shockwave that rippled through Patricia when she discovered her husband, Daniel's, extramarital escapade was indescribable. The idea that he could betray her in such a manner was beyond comprehension. Patricia, fueled by her anger and hurt, confided in her teenage daughters about their father's transgression, expecting them to share her outrage. She was unprepared for the profound distress and confusion that enveloped them. Years later, Patricia's eldest daughter revealed how the specter of her father's infidelity had cast a long shadow over her own romantic relationships, and how much she resented being trapped in the crossfire between her parents.

    If you, as a parent, find yourself entangled in the thorny bramble of an affair, the question of "What do we tell the children?" likely looms large. Children, regardless of age, can sense when the family equilibrium is perturbed. Perhaps the frequency or intensity of parental arguments has increased, or maybe there's a noticeable decrease in shared family time. Signs of heightened anxiety or sadness may be evident in one or both parents. You may feel compelled to do or say something, but the question remains, what? Foremost, your guiding principle should be prioritizing your children's well-being when deciding what to disclose.

    It's crucial to help your children maintain nurturing and affectionate relationships with both parents during this period of turbulence. You may want to clear your name or lay blame on your partner, but remember that it's not about settling scores. It's about protecting your children's mental and emotional well-being. Regardless of the circumstances, it's paramount that your children maintain strong bonds with both parents. Even in the face of parental discord and divorce, research has shown that children can navigate these choppy waters provided they can maintain affectionate relationships with both parents without having to pick sides. You may need to swallow your words and curb the urge to disclose damaging information about your partner. This doesn't mean lying to your children, but it does mean thoughtfully considering what information to share and what to withhold.

    The contentious question for many parents is whether to explicitly tell the children about the affair. Some experts believe children should always be made aware of an affair, with language adjusted to suit their age. Others argue that children deserve to know because they are an integral part of the family. However, there's no definitive proof that children inevitably discover their parents' affairs, so exercise caution in this matter. If the affair is widely known and your children are likely to find out from external sources, you might want to control the narrative by telling them yourselves. However, there's also a competing philosophy that holds that the intimate details of a couple's relationship are private and need not be shared with children. The choice ultimately rests with you.

    When a significant rift is present in your relationship, it's crucial to communicate with your children. They may sense that something is amiss but may feel lost without further information. You may want to reassure them that despite the current tension between mom and dad, their love for them remains unchanged. It can also be helpful to discuss any upcoming changes in the family dynamics, such as spending less time together but continuing to live under the same roof.

    There's often no compelling reason to disclose an affair unless it's likely to become public knowledge. What your children need help understanding is the severity of their parents' conflicts and how these conflicts might affect their lives. The most crucial piece of information your children need is that they are loved unconditionally by both parents.

    Ensure that your communication is age-appropriate, using language that they can understand. A seven-year-old does not need to hear the specifics of an extramarital affair, but you could explain that their father is unsure about continuing the marriage because he has feelings for another person.

    The method of communication is as vital as the content. Generally, if you are discussing relationship difficulties, it could be beneficial for both partners to talk to the children together. This approach prevents either parent from blaming the other and keeps the discussion at a family level, emphasizing that it's a joint issue that you're addressing together. If children have questions, having both parents present makes it easier to provide answers. Simultaneously, presenting two separate narratives of the relationship struggles can lead to confusion and the feeling of being stuck in the middle for your children.

    However, some couples opt to talk to their children separately, often when anger levels are too high to guarantee a peaceful discussion in front of the children. In such cases, discussing what each of you will say and how to handle potential issues that may arise can help avoid blaming each other or putting your children in the middle of your own struggles.

    As you navigate the choppy waters of your relationship, your children may respond in various ways: from worry and sadness to acting out or seeming indifferent. No matter their reaction, understand that the upcoming months may be challenging for them. Try to maintain your children's daily routine to minimize disruption in their lives. While acknowledging the difficulties your family is experiencing, keep the specifics of your relationship issues to yourselves, unless they directly impact the children.

    Avoid letting your children slip into parental roles, providing emotional support during this crisis. It's inappropriate to rely on your children for emotional support, understanding, or advice, regardless of their age. This places an unfair burden on them, often forcing them to choose between their parents. The same goes for practical support. While it might be reasonable to ask for more help during these difficult times, ensure the children continue being children, functioning at a level appropriate for their age and individual development.

    Navigating the rocky terrain of infidelity is a delicate task, particularly when children are involved. However, by focusing on their well-being, maintaining open, age-appropriate communication, and preserving their daily routines, parents can guide their children through this difficult time with care and sensitivity.

    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    There are no comments to display.

    Create an account or sign in to comment

    You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

    Create an account

    Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

    Register a new account

    Sign in

    Already have an account? Sign in here.

    Sign In Now

  • Create New...