Forum Archives

Return to Forum List

Telling children

You are not logged in. Login here or register.

Marathonwaseasy posted 11/16/2013 02:27 AM

One of my first thoughts on dday was I never wanted my kids to know. The oldest two are 12 and 15 and have been through enough with their dad in and out of hospital, his erratic behaviours, his withdrawal and depressions, his times of going AWOL when we had to call the police because we had no idea if he was alive or dead, the police turning up to force him back to hospital because he had been sectioned.

Trouble is his A was a big big secret and I've been in bits for the past 2 months. A sighting of OW led me to have a panic attack and our daughter overheard enough to work it all out.

So fwh told them about the A. Not the gory details but enough so they know why I'm so upset. They are both ok. Accepting that he was ill, he regrets it so much, it wasn't about them, we are working it out. The version of the story for them was very minimised but that's ok. They're still children and both me and fwh know the whole story. He's doing everything right and is truly remorseful

I'm so upset that they have this to deal with too. And so sad that they will take this into their adult life and it might affect their own relationships. And so ashamed.

But I think it's probably a good thing. There's no secrets now and secrets are toxic and the big fear that stopped us contacting police/lawyer after ow's continued refusal to accept it's over was that the children might find out. So any more harassment will be acted on.

And yet. I look at my babies and wish I could have protected them from this

ItsaClimb posted 11/16/2013 08:10 AM

It is so complicated and it hurts so much when the children are affected by the A, but overall IMHO it is much better when there are no secrets. I would hate my daughters ever to be in a position like I was... where they feel they were lied to by omission and that they are the last to know. That there were big family issues that were kept from them. I'd hate that!

My daughters both found out about the A on D-Day. My youngest still lives at home (she was 17 on D-Day) and she saw me really, really hysterical. I was so upset about the fall-out of it all for her, and went to see a psychologist, to find out how to best help her deal with what she witnessed. The psychologist said that she felt my daughter would not be harmed in any lasting way by it all, provided we were very open and honest with her (in an age appropriate way of course). She said it is GOOD for children to see that their parents have strong emotions, that they express these emotions and recover, that life goes on... that talking about it helps, that people mess up and then make amends, that forgiveness happens in families, that we take responsibility for our actions, that we should be mindful of how our actions affect the feelings of those around us.... the life-lessons to be learned in a situation like this are endless!

So I have tried to draw as many positives from my daughters knowing about this as I can. My youngest and I especially have talked SO much about all I have learned through this process, things I have picked up in therapy, here on SI etc. She is using what she has learned from all of this in her relationship with her boy-friend and in life in general. She will often come and say to me "Remember how we were talking about....., well I noticed something when (insert boy-friends name) and I were talking today...."

I will never be glad that she grew up in a family affected by infidelity, but I am SO glad that she is going into adulthood equipped to deal with relationship issues, knowledgeable about things like boundaries and FOO issues etc etc. It gives me confidence that she will pick up signs of relationship troubles way earlier than I did, that she will know what to do when faced with situations that I simply floundered in...

Another thing - I have noticed new depth to my relationships with my daughters. My younger daughter has expressed how grateful she is that I thought she was mature enough to confide in her; that I trusted her enough to tell her things. In turn, I find her being so much more open with me. She TALKS to me about her troubles in a way that she never did before. In the past she would mention issues, we would discuss them, but she would not sit down with me and really pour out her heart and soul like she does now.

So there is positive in all of this!

The negative is that her relationship with her dad is more distant than it used to be. She is really angry with him. It hurts me. But I have accepted that it is a natural consequence of his appalling decisions. It is something he is going to have to work hard at mending. And there is a lesson for both of them in that too!

blakesteele posted 11/16/2013 08:21 AM


Man....does this break my heart. My daughter was asleep on my arm this innocent, so not worthy of the damage my wifes A has done and can do to both our daughters in the future. Small town living....pray every day they dont find out. Not saying I deserve this pain either...but at least I can see how my actions pre-A hurt my I am not innocent. For the record, I pray for my wifes AP 5 children....they too are negatively affected by their fathers decision to commit adultery (a decision he continues to make with another woman).

We have choosen NOT to tell our children right now....6 and 9.

Did your husband consult you before he talked to them?

Heard a commentary on the radio the other day...had to do with parents laying down the law to their 20 year old daughter. She was making choices that crossed the boundaries her parents had set for her while she lived in their house. Since she was an adult...this daughter decided to move out of their family home.

They also have a 14 year old daughter. The 14 year old reacted poorly to her older sister moving out.

The parents told the 14 year old that they had to protect their family. The therapist on the radio said "WRONG ANSWER!"

While this was a true answer, it is not an answer a 14 year old can process....and will lead to FOO issues.

The therapist said to go to the 14 year old and say "Your sister has made choices that took her outside of the family home. We still love her and hope she chooses to rejoin our family very soon."

See the difference? I sure did. My abandnonment fears date back to when I was 12....hardly anything was said about my parents sudden D, other than "Moms is going to take care of the family.".

It left me with this feeling that I could be cut out of the family without warning.

I would have really appreciated the truth about "choices" and how it is a persons choice that caused the situation to occur...not some mystical "protection" thing.

See what I mean?

It makes sense to me....young children understand choices and consequences. They really arent mature enough to understand the whole "nurturing and protection" dynamic....hell, some ADULTS dont get that concept!

At the end of the really is choices that result in reality. My choices on how I reacted to my DD resulted in a more dreadful reality.....not by my wifes choices, but by my own.

By realizing that it empowered me. Made me feel stupid, immature, and embarrassed....but realizing it was by MY choice was liberating.

Perhaps you can find a way to work this choice idea into a conversation with your children.

I believe children are resilient....but also believe coping mechanisms gives us a false sense that little damage occurred.

Much damage occurred to both my wife and I during our formative years thanks to really poor family discussions....or lack of them. We masked the hurt....I did it for 30 years.

God help us all.

[This message edited by blakesteele at 8:23 AM, November 16th (Saturday)]

Marathonwaseasy posted 11/16/2013 08:28 AM

Yes fwh and I talked before we spoke to our children. He spoke but I was there at the time. The words he used were age appropriate and we discussed it before hand. But our daughter heard something when I had a panic attack and she asked outright. Lying would have been wrong
Fwh did say he had made a bad choice as a result of his illness and that it was not my fault and that I had chosen to give him another chance and he was so grateful for that chance and was taking care of me.
Obviously this explanation does reduce his culpability but he was bloody ill. And they knew that. I believe the kids are most bothered that he's not as ill and we are more together.
But I will keep talking to them as needed

They seem ok. I'm in bits.

blakesteele posted 11/16/2013 08:30 AM

Good post itsaclimb. I respect your viewpoints....I am just so not wanting to hurt our daughters more than we have. Through my own choices we have argued in front of them 3 times....and have had countless closed-door discussions in our bedroom with little ones knocking on the door, asking when we will be coming out.

We have told them what our counselor said...that mom and dad are working on problems...that we love each other, love them, and we are finding solutions.

But this is the "ommission" thing you speak of.

If we D I feel we will have to tell them about our choices and the affair...but until then....well....I just dont know.

I have tried to find a cut and dried answer to this.....simply cant. I think if they were older I would be more we could share more details....but even that, I wonder if it is my fear speaking and not my mind.

So sad. Makes me once again think about what little my wife gained and how much it costs.

I like the fact that you can share your wisdom with your daughter. Lack of real-life sharing from my parents to me let me figure out love, sex, intimacy, marriage....basically on my own. Didnt do so great. I gotta believe your daughter stands a better chance at a healthier way of processing life than I did.

I am learning though!

God be with us all.

blakesteele posted 11/16/2013 08:33 AM

Marathonwaseasy....well done.

My wife and I believe that if we are asked a specific question we are to tell the each other, to our kids, to our friends. We agree to stay to the fact.

You are doing is painful...but you are courageous. Thanks for posting.

Peace to you all.

ItsaClimb posted 11/16/2013 08:48 AM

We have told them what our counselor said...that mom and dad are working on problems...that we love each other, love them, and we are finding solutions.

IMHO, I think at their young age this is possibly all they need to know blakesteele. Maybe over time just continue to reassure them with that knowledge.

I think a lot comes down to being age-appropriate. My daughters, being a lot older, can obviously cope with a lot more.

There were MANY FOO issues when I was growing up - infidelity, divorce (multiple!) abandonment, alcohol abuse... all kinds of stuff. I SO wish someone had sat me down sometime and just TALKED about it, reassured me that things would be OK, told me at least SOMETHING of what was going on, so that I wasn't left to take responsibility for it ('cause that's what kids do, they often blame themselves, and because that makes no sense to us "why on earth would they blame themselves, it's got nothing to do with them?" - the kid doesn't see it through adult eyes though!) If only one of the adults would have given me a safe space to voice my fears, and been able to reassure me that they were unfounded, or at least manageable, I may not be dealing with the Fear of Abandonment and Co-dependency issues that I am wrestling now.

brkn_heartd posted 11/16/2013 10:25 AM

It is hard to tell the children, no doubt. My father had several affairs through their marriage...I was became aware of the second to the last one while I lived at home. I found out about the others years later. She was not able to move out because she gave up her career to raise us. She could not support us. So she stayed and they divorced after his NEXT affair.

For me, it changed me for the good. I decided then I would never be dependent upon a man for financial support. I went to school, (several times now)and am in a wonderful position to support myself. I have been since my first time in school. Now my H did have an A. However, I chose to was not because I was stuck and unable to leave.

I say this because while my father's A was a terrible thing to our family...and still his since he married his last OW....I am a stronger and more independent person because of it. Hopefully, the knowledge will help your children make wise decisions when they are older because they know the truth.

bionicgal posted 11/16/2013 10:27 AM

I struggle with this because I hate secrecy, having grown up in a secretive and dysfunctional house. I don't know if there is a right or wrong here, and certainly respect people who told their children out of love and respect for them.

Our therapist and our minster both advised us to say the minimum to our 9-year old -- that there was a difference in secrecy and privacy. The issue is compounded by the fact that the AP was a family friend, and we basically cut off all contact with her family (and we were there probably 1x a week, prior). So, we told our son that the adults had a falling out, that it had nothing to do with the kids, and that he was welcome to play with them out in public, but that we aren't going to their house anymore, and vice versa.

He has struggled with this -- he's a bright,sensitive boy, and would like to know why. But, I simply do not believe this is information a 9 year old should have. My H does plan on telling him someday, when the information/lessons will be useful to him.

The idea that there are boundaries, and adult and children's relationships, is new to him. We had a profoundly child-centered marriage before, so my son's feelings about what he should be privy to were perhaps already not in good balance. My son and I were also particularly (and perhaps not always healthfully) close because my H traveled a lot, so I also fear that the idea that his dad "hurt his mom" would prevent us from repairing the existing imbalance at this point.

So, it is a funny line for me -- secrecy vs privacy. The kid in me who grew up in secrecy thinks it is better to be honest, but I do feel that the right answer on this could be different in different situations.

[This message edited by bionicgal at 10:47 AM, November 16th (Saturday)]

1owner posted 11/16/2013 10:57 AM

I was totally in the dark until dday. My oldest daughter knew before I did. All of the kids heard her screaming at the top of her lungs in a drunken rage when she told me, so even the little ones know. Probably even the neighbors heard that!

Suprisingly, the kids are ok. I have always been there for my kids and have a great relationship with both of them. They still love their mother, I haven't tried to turn them against her or speak bad of her. Even if we divorce, which is probable, I wouldn't want the kids to think poorly of their mother. My oldest (14) understands that some poor choices were made by her mother, and also understands that consequences of those poor choices are often paid for by pain and hurt of others...namely me. She saw what I went through, and I hope this will prevent her from making similarly poor choices in her life. It seems she has learned from this as well.

God bless the children!

blakesteele posted 11/16/2013 11:27 AM

Amen.......i sooooo hear you itsaclimb. How did I go 30 years and NOT recognize my own unhealthiness?!?!?

Mercy on us all.

Flourgirl posted 11/16/2013 14:29 PM

We just told our kids a few weeks ago. I wanted to spare them the pain but it is too big of a secret to keep. I grew up in a house full of unhealthy secrets. Going back to that was killing me. Everything we did as a family felt fake. Hiding my tears separated me from them. We told them together in an age appropriate way. We answered their questions and I'm still answering questions. They are still in shock that their father cheated on us and lied to us. My 13 year old is not dealing with it at all. She just can't see him as imperfect. My 11 year old is angry at OW mostly but at her dad some. Our sons are too young to understand but now that they know something is going on they are giving us more time to work things out alone time. We reassured them that we are staying together. That Daddy won't be drinking anymore and that he hasn't spoken with OW in months. I found out my father cheated on my mom the same day I found out my husband cheated on me. My mother decided to tell me when I was crying hysterically to her about WH. She held it in 30 years and then dropped the bomb on me when I was already crushed. My dad passed away 5 yrs ago so I can't talk to him about it. I wanted my kids to know if they go through something like this a marriage can survive it. I think that is why my mom told me but it was bad timing.

Return to Forum List

© 2002-2018 ®. All Rights Reserved.