What to tell the kids
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Coping with Infidelity Relationship recovery from the destructiveness of infidelity.

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Old 08-27-2013, 01:00 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default What to tell the kids

Here is my dilemma... After nearly a year of being separated from my world-class, hall of fame serial cheating husband I am finally filing for the divorce. I've seen the light and know he'll never change and I'm actually relieved to get on with my life.

I'll be telling the kids myself about the divorce due to the fact that I can't get him to sit down and participate in a family discussion. The problem is the kids think somehow I can fix our family and if I just let Daddy come back everything would be ok.

My therapist thinks I should in very general terms explain to them that the marriage is over because daddy has other girlfriends. He feels that it's not fair that I shoulder the blame for the decision.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this? I don't want to make things even harder on the kids just to make myself feel justified. What would you do in this situation? Advice is VERY appreciated.
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Old 08-27-2013, 01:09 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: What to tell the kids

You need to think about the maturity level of the kids an what they can handle. If the therapist has met them and assessed their capabilities, then he/she might be on the right track. Their is no hard line for what is acceptable and good for your kids. Each child is individual in what they can handle, understand, and accept, just as you are different in what you need to know for details. You know your kids best and what is best for them. Whatever you do, make sure that they are aware it is not something that they are responsible for or could be fixed or changed by their actions/ reactions. You both love the children dearly and just do not have the same feelings for each other anymore and want what is best for all involved. If you mention about the OW (which you probably want to) don't try and make him out as a villain so that the kids hate and distrust him (even if that is what he deserves). Take the high road, just as you did with not having an RA and later down the road tell them more as they are fit to handle it.
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Old 08-27-2013, 01:29 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: What to tell the kids

Thanks Squeakr, I definitely won't be involving the OW because unfortunately (or fortunately - not sure which) there isn't a specific other women. Just lots and lots and lots of swingers and no-strings-attached sex partners :-(

I think my 13 year old already pretty much understands that her dad cheated but my 8 year old son really has no idea and I want him to understand the problem without going into any real level of detail.

I was thinking of saying that "Daddy has other girlfriends and that's not ok when you're married. But it doesn't change the fact that daddy and I will always care about each other and love you more than anything in the world"

Is that too much info or too little?
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Old 08-27-2013, 01:35 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: What to tell the kids

May I suggest just telling them that when you and Daddy got married you each made promises to each other not to involve other people in the marriage. Daddy has decided to involve other people and for that reason you both need to separate from each other. It does not mean we love you any less.
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Old 08-27-2013, 01:38 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: What to tell the kids

Without knowing your kids I can't say. I would leave out the girl friends part and tell him when older. Even if he understands it is not acceptable, he may think it is okay to speak about in public as he probably doesn't understand the depth of relationships and this could cause awkward public moments with friends and family.
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Old 08-27-2013, 01:46 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: What to tell the kids

Over time, when you think that they are ready (old enough), your children need to know the truth. The whole truth. The pain, the hurt, the lies, the filth .... everything. Don't hold anything back and don't let someone else control what "the truth" is. They should not grow up with any misconceptions about your husband, either positive or overly negative.

I grew up with infidelity and I spent most of my life thinking the cheater was a great guy and the victim was crazy. Your children deserve more.
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Old 08-30-2013, 09:06 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: What to tell the kids

I think what you plan to say is perfect. Answer any questions to the best of your ability.

Kids don't care if YOUR life is disrupted, they care if THEIR life is disrupted.

Do we have to move?

Can I still play baseball?

Will we still go to the same school?

The less THEIR lives change, the more accepting they will be.
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Old 08-31-2013, 02:57 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: What to tell the kids

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Thanks Squeakr, I definitely won't be involving the OW because unfortunately (or fortunately - not sure which) there isn't a specific other women. Just lots and lots and lots of swingers and no-strings-attached sex partners :-(

I think my 13 year old already pretty much understands that her dad cheated but my 8 year old son really has no idea and I want him to understand the problem without going into any real level of detail.

I was thinking of saying that "Daddy has other girlfriends and that's not ok when you're married. But it doesn't change the fact that daddy and I will always care about each other and love you more than anything in the world"

Is that too much info or too little?
my kids were 8 and 9 when I had this same dilemma

We had lived so many lies with the stbx that I vowed they'd get no more She may lie through her teeth but I decided I was not going to do that especially as it 'gets her off the hook' so to speak.

The day she left my kids had "I'm going because I have hurt daddy too much and I have to go" which kind of was okay for the instant truth (which it was) but that soon produced a stream of "what did mummy do to hurt you daddy" which they would never stop asking curiosity etc etc

I eventually said to her you tell them in your own way or I will. She told me to fk off!

So I sat them down explained the basic rules of marriage. But they already had their own views of intimacy "romantic moments" from before. They opined "so do you mean those vows you take when you get married dad" and you should not have 'romantic moments' with other people"

I was gobsmacked they already knew in truth - not in gory detail but the fundamental issues.

Once they knew this they were fine. To be honest, they knew it was wrong very wrong, but I emphasised that it was nothing to do with them, mummy daddy both loved them and that would never change etc etc, and they were okay with it.

I felt much better because I had stopped deflecting it effectively stopped lying about it.

I also took the view that later in years they'd come back at me with "she was always lying about everything and so were you too" I wont have that problem ever again

...she will tho
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Old 08-31-2013, 10:04 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Most people in these situations don't realize that kids pick things up very easy and just because their "kids" they can't put two and two together. Then the hard part comes and the adults are stumbling around trying to find the right words so the children don't think that it's their fault.

Basically if the cheater would stop thinking about their own selfish self and take a look around and see that their actions are destroying everyone around them, these questions wouldn't have to be answered.

In my case when my second marriage fell apart and I found out after that she was having an affair, I told stbxw, "you wanna dance to the music? Now you have to pay the piper, you explain your actions, you caused it" That's when you see a grown mature adult groping for words. I just sat back and watched her try to squirm out of it. If there was any kind of revenge, that was it. Trying to brush over it just led to more questions and she dug herself a deeper hole every time she opened her mouth.
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Old 08-31-2013, 10:58 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: What to tell the kids

When I told the kids they were 14 and 10. The older one discovered her dad's multiple EA/PA and agree not to say anything to the younger until I was ready. It took about a week.
If I remember correctly, it was sort of that dad has done things that really hurt my feelings, things married people aren't supposed to do. We can't live together anymore, but nothing changes about our feelings for you. No you don't have to move, and dad and I are working out the visitation, and yes you get a say in when and how that happens. I finished up with I am upset, and it will take me awhile to get over this, but I love them both very much.
I never actually said dad has gf. But they both discovered the whole sordid tale soon. H was not very discrete.
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Old 08-31-2013, 11:14 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: What to tell the kids

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Originally Posted by punkinhead View Post
Thanks Squeakr, I definitely won't be involving the OW because unfortunately (or fortunately - not sure which) there isn't a specific other women. Just lots and lots and lots of swingers and no-strings-attached sex partners :-(

I think my 13 year old already pretty much understands that her dad cheated but my 8 year old son really has no idea and I want him to understand the problem without going into any real level of detail.

I was thinking of saying that "Daddy has other girlfriends and that's not ok when you're married. But it doesn't change the fact that daddy and I will always care about each other and love you more than anything in the world"

Is that too much info or too little?
Sounds like a good basis for a start. Play it by ear and course correct if required. And good luck.
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Old 08-31-2013, 11:17 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: What to tell the kids

Personally, I opted not to tell my son who was eight at the time and still haven't. Let me tell you, it felt like I was eating a really big "sh!t-sandwich" having to protect the esteem my son had for his cheating, abandoning, selfish father. But that's what I did.

Sometimes I regret not telling him because I've had to shoulder a lot of our son's anger over the separation and wonder if it's because he thinks it's my fault? So I'm still not sure if not telling him was the right thing to do or not. Sometimes I think I won't tell him unless he's an adult and he asks. But then I'm afraid that if I do that then, he'll be more crushed by not knowing the truth for all of those years so I think I won't ever be able to tell.

I do think what you plan to say is very good. From what I've read in affair books/websites it's a pretty standard way to explain it to them.
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Old 08-31-2013, 11:30 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: What to tell the kids

Whatever you tell them, however simple or complicated, has to be true, something that won't conflict with what their eyes and ears tell them. Kids see and hear what is going on when you are in the other room and when you are on the phone.

It would help a great deal if your husband told the same.

Does he ever see his kids?
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Old 08-31-2013, 12:38 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Personally, I opted not to tell my son who was eight at the time and still haven't. Let me tell you, it felt like I was eating a really big "sh!t-sandwich" having to protect the esteem my son had for his cheating, abandoning, selfish father. But that's what I did.

Sometimes I regret not telling him because I've had to shoulder a lot of our son's anger over the separation and wonder if it's because he thinks it's my fault? So I'm still not sure if not telling him was the right thing to do or not. Sometimes I think I won't tell him unless he's an adult and he asks. But then I'm afraid that if I do that then, he'll be more crushed by not knowing the truth for all of those years so I think I won't ever be able to tell.

I do think what you plan to say is very good. From what I've read in affair books/websites it's a pretty standard way to explain it to them.
Only me but personally I'd tell him. Your son is gonna be mighty pissed when he eventually finds it all out and upsettingly for you, with you too.

Main thing is you would be surprised I feel at how he will react knowing it IS the truth. He probably spends a good deal of time wondering what the hell happened
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Old 08-31-2013, 08:38 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: What to tell the kids

Thank you all for your advice and words of wisdom. I was able to get some alone time with my 13 year old daughter on Friday night and we had a very good conversation. She had guessed early on that there was unfaithfulness and without going into details I explained why continuing in this situation would mean allowing someone to treat me as if I have no value. And that I don't want her to grow up thinking this is what marriage is. She's such a mature kid. She said she's very angry with her dad for his selfishness and that she admires my strength. That made me want to cry.

After that I had planned to tell my son today but he woke up sick with a fever and was crying because he misses his dad so much :-(. He hasn't seen him for 2 weeks because he's been too busy chasing *****s and trying to get laid. My son was so pathetic that I just can't add to his misery today. I'll try again in a few days.

Ugh I just hate my stbx so much for putting my kids through this!
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