Should Your Kids Know You’ve Had an Affair?
Personal relationships are one of the most difficult aspects of life. There is no set of rules that can be applied to personal interactions since every situation is different, even if only slightly. Family units have to deal with some painful issues as they grow and develop, and one of those issues is infidelity. The divorce rate for first marriages in the United States has famously hovered around 50 percent for decades. Second and third marriages have even higher rates of divorce. When something that causes a rift between parents starts to manifest, one of the first questions is whether or not the children should be told that you had an affair.
One of the first things that a struggling couple needs to determine about their future is whether or not they are going to attempt to make the marriage work after they had an affair has been revealed. This will have a drastic affect on whether or not you should share the development with your children.
If you believe you and your spouse can move past the brief moment of infidelity, it is certainly not a good idea to involve your children. Younger children, and even those who have entered high school, typically have a positive vision of their parents that may be ruined by informing them of an affair, especially if that affair isn’t going to affect his or her day-to-day life.
Those couples who know they can’t move past the incident of unfaithfulness have an entirely different set of issues to be concerned with. Suppose a couple decides to seek divorce due to an affair, and that couple has two preteen children. The children would certainly be able to detect major problems with their parent’s relationship, and they may start to form their own ideas about what is going on. They may even flat out ask their parents if they’re going to get divorced if they sense an overwhelming amount of negativity.
Children today have access to more information than any previous generation thanks to the prevalence of the Internet. They can find out just about anything they want to know, including the realities of adult relationships and divorce. Because of this level of access, it is difficult to keep children from learning any specific thing. In other words, if they want to figure it out, they will.
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However, there is a world of difference between using children as a tool for leverage during a divorce and being open and honest with them. If you’re a wife who’s been cheated on by her husband, you might find it hard to avoid painting your ex in a neutral or positive light for your children. You may even be tempted to use your children as a way of gaining an upper hand in the argument.
The question of whether or not children should be informed of their parents activities is one that has no simple answer. Most parents will agree that you should never lie to your children, but what do you do when they ask questions you can not answer without revealing too much or something too negative? The end goal of any conversation with your children regarding your relationship with your spouse should focus on a single idea, and that idea is that whatever you say to them should be strictly for their benefit.
It may be difficult to make yourself act a certain way that goes against your feelings, but you must consider the psychology health of your children. If the fault can be attributed to one spouse during a divorce, which is often the case with an affair, you might be tempted to reveal the truth to your children simply to spite your ex-spouse. This would be a perfect example of a situation in which the parents should avoid telling their children anything, because hearing nothing is better than hearing something negative.
Divorce and infidelity are unfortunate parts of life, but they can not be ignored simply because they are uncomfortable. You’ll almost certainly have to be honest with your children about the situation at some point, even if you wait until they are old enough to properly understand. In the mean time, you should only reveal to them what they need to know to believe that both of their parents will continue to love them, even if they had an affair.