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infedelity and kids down the road

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million pieces posted 2/11/2014 19:53 PM

There is always the talk about what kids should know. I am all for the truth, at least age appropriate truth. But my kids have never asked, so I have never told. My IC said that she doubted that they would ever ask, because they know/will know when they get old enough and put it together. And kids really don't want to know something bad about their parents. She pointed out that I never asked....

My parents sep and div'd when I was in my mid 20s. I never asked my mom why she moved out. I knew she was unhappy for years but I didn't want to know if there was someone else that made it easier to leave, I didn't want to know. 20 years later, I still don't want to know.

My grandfather who was 98 died last week. My granny (who was not a nice lady) always accused him of infidelity especially when she had Alzheimer's her last couple of years. I mentioned it in passing to my dad last summer, he said that it was nothing new, she would rail against him 50 yrs ago. My grandfather was sweet, very biblical, very gentle, and I loved him. I don't want to know.

I am a BS, and I don't want to know. I don't think my kids want to know, and that is ok with me.

littlefoggy posted 2/11/2014 21:36 PM

My parents have infidelity issues and they are in R. They are one of the couples that ends up stronger.

I knew something was wrong and I asked them about it and they didn't tell me. I wish they had. My mom eventually did. I was an adult through it all and didn't need sugary truth.

I supported my mom however I could. All the kids (all adults) held my dad accountable.

Going through this now with the support of both my parents is amazing. My mom as a BS and my dad as a WS is crazy supportive. I get both sides (even before I found SI). My dad was appalled at how STBX treated me and fully supported my decision to D. I think my dad seeing me (his little girl) go through this is helping their R too.

That is just my perspective. We have a pretty open family dynamic.

[This message edited by littlefoggy at 9:37 PM, February 11th (Tuesday)]

IrishLass518 posted 2/11/2014 22:41 PM

My kids didn't have a choice. xWH introduced them and involved them when my xBFF became his OW. "Isn't it awesome that we are such good friends and we can all hang out together kids and everyone? Everyone except IrishLass, she wouldn't get how awesome this is"
My kids knew before I did and it was terrible for them.

BrokenDaisy posted 2/11/2014 23:06 PM

I'm not the head in sand type of person. I prefer knowing. I much rather face reality and live in truth than be sheltered from it. I was the child who always asked questions. I didn't always get the truth. I won't do that to my son, I want him prepared for life. I will raise him with the truth and I will help him navigate reality in a healthy way so that he grows up strong and able to navigate life knowing the facts. With the type of xwh I have it is also imperative my son is aware in order to keep himself safe and protected.

I much rather face difficult reality and live an authentic life making choices on facts than living a lie covered in secrets and fantasy. I am building a new life for my son and I and it is already beautiful. He is flourishing and he will continue to be happy and have lots of joy and love in his life. I think the truth is a gift and will help him navigate his own choices so that he can stay happy. Truth doesn't take away joy, lies/secrets does. Life has ugly in it and I think it does a disservice to hide that from your children because then they are caught unaware when they step out of the nest. Of course I'll keep it child appropriate but I will always be a source of truth to my son.

I won't always be able to protect my son from the harsh realities of life but I can teach him to cope with them and flourish despite of them. Just my 2 cents

[This message edited by BrokenDaisy at 11:09 PM, February 11th (Tuesday)]

dindy posted 2/12/2014 03:13 AM

My children are only very little now. But, if they ask questions as they get older I will tell them why their mummy and daddy S. In an age appropriate way of course.

I believe they have a right to know. And I also want them to learn about self-respect. They will know that I believed we deserved to be treated so much better.

Just my two cents.

fireproof posted 2/12/2014 05:04 AM

I think it depends:

1. Age of the child
2. Dynamic of the family
3. If they ask
4. If it causes issues
5. If the BS is healthy enough to explain

The natural extinct is to look up to your parents. Most kids feel something and more than likely put things together. But they don't understand all the ramifications. You know how you felt I guess unless absolutely necessary why bring that into their lives unless they want to know and even then it is aster of saying people have choices - bottom line. Not sure if they need to know the details or want them to spend time thinking of all that it feels like.

I don't think my child will ever ask and honestly I don't want to tell. It is poison really - I know there is the possibility of a marriage without infidelity. I never heard of people divorcing and most of my closest friends are married and so are their parents. BUT if it happens I will be there and if asked I will say it is the past and he made a choice and give all the tools I learned to move on and be stronger.

I also might have to wait until I am confronted with the situation and I hope I never will be.

[This message edited by fireproof at 5:06 AM, February 12th (Wednesday)]

BrokenDaisy posted 2/12/2014 06:06 AM

I much rather have my son hear it from me than having to deduce it by himself (or worst hear the story second hand from others). Being truthful with him will make it clear to him he can trust I will be there for him in life to help figure things out. I don't want him to ever feel that he is alone and have to figure things out on his own. I want him to know I will always tell him the truth even when it's hard. I feel it will also show/model to him the example to live a truthful life and to communicate and not sit on important information or keep secrets. Most importantly maybe also helping him to learn about red flags so he does not make the same mistakes in trusting the wrong people. I can't NOT pass on the lessons I've learned. Much better he learns from me than through his own trauma.

I strongly believe awareness and knowledge is the best defense. I will arm my son with as much knowledge and healthy thinking as I can. Therefore there needs to be open dialogue about it all. It's not about bad mouthing his father or revenge. It's about protecting my son. I wish it never happened and it wasn't my/our history but it did happen and his father is a SA NPD/sociopath. Not telling my son won't change that and suddenly make it all go away. Not telling my son won't protect him.

I'm honestly not trying to pick on anyone but this thread/post has gnawed at me since I've read it. It's so foreign for me NOT wanting to know or give relevant info unless asked... It's like the sex talk. Not fun to do but very necessary to keep our children informed and safe. I feel it's our jobs as parents to have the difficult conversations with our children.

cayc posted 2/12/2014 06:16 AM

This not wanting to know thing boggles my mind. I was married to a con-artist. I lost 10 years to not knowing and inadvertently made bad decision after bad decision due to not knowing.

And I was raised in a family where you don't talk about things, don't tell things etc. And all that accomplished was to teach me shit communication skills and the inability to stand up for myself and hold my ground.

To each his own, but I think it's a scaredy cat way of living to avoid the truth, and I think children are done a disservice when they aren't talked to honestly.

BrokenDaisy posted 2/12/2014 07:12 AM

ITA cyac. Exactly what you said! As always someone else manages to say what I was trying to in much less words and much clearer.

Williesmom posted 2/12/2014 09:38 AM

Agree with cayc.

My dad had an A on my mom when I was a child. I always knew, but mom confirmed it when I was about 30. It was never talked about, and they're still together.

I told my brother when his wife left him, because mom was triggering pretty badly. My sister still doesn't know.

It is still hard for me to be around my dad.

fireproof posted 2/12/2014 10:19 AM

I think it depends on the child and the parents.

I don't agree with telling the children at all costs because sometimes that can cause the child to be in the middle. What is done is done.

I trust parents would know their child best and to do what is best for their family.

BrokenDaisy posted 2/12/2014 11:34 AM

The truth is always the best. Isn't that one of the important things shown through all this? To never lie (directly or by omitting truths) to loved ones?

Whether you (general you) want to admit/accept it or not the infidelity had a major effect on the children's lives too and they deserve to know and be helped/guided through it. I see it as akin to WS's not telling BS's because "they are protecting you/what you don't know doesn't hurt you etc". Same excuse. Same damage. We all know it does hurt even if you don't know why, it syphons through to your life. We all know you are not protecting loved ones, you're protecting yourself and acting out of fear/discomfort. Whether you caused the damage or not, it has been done. It needs to be handled in an open way so that children know they are safe to discuss their concerns or ask their questions.

I see the only way to teach children integrity/honesty is by respecting them enough to offer those things to them. Lead by example. Even when it is difficult subjects, actually ESPECIALLY when it is difficult subjects. Silence and secrets doesn't do anyone good. No matter how you try to rationalize it.

I don't agree with telling the children at all costs because sometimes that can cause the child to be in the middle. What is done is done.

The children are already in the middle of it. They just don't know the facts. Something horrific happened in their family and it will have a huge effect on them whether you talk to them about it or not. Imo talking to them minimizes the negative effects.

"what is done is done"? Infidelity has a massive impact on a family. Just like it will still effect you for years to come (emotionally and mentally) it will effect your children and shape a part of their life's and coping skills. I much rather let something positive be shaped through this (eg. open communication, honesty, integrity, that together we can overcome anything, nothing will ever be too much for me to handle or help with or discuss, I am my child's safe haven, he can trust me) than reinforcing the damage of the infidelity (eg. it's best to keep secrets, stay quiet about the hard stuff, when things are hard I am not the one to talk to, they have to figure things out themselves, I can't handle the difficult things so they can't trust me with it etc.) Whether you mean to relay all those things or not I believe it is exactly the lessons children take. Children learn from our behaviour and actions, not our words. If your behaviour is silence and secrets that is what they are going to learn whether your motivation for that silence is pure and protective or not. You yourself also said that you wish they never ask. Don't you think they can sense that? They know it's a taboo topic? Don't you think that makes it even more confusing and powerful? Open communication is paramount with things like this. It's the only effective defense and it's needed for healing. It lessens the power of the infidelity and the damage done by it.

I clearly feel very strongly about this but I don't mean to insult. I get your reasons for not wanting to discuss it (I have parents with the same type of mindset). I'm sure you believe you're doing the right thing. All I'm saying is it happened. Sheltering them is not going to change that.

We can agree to disagree on this.

Nature_Girl posted 2/12/2014 13:50 PM

You expressed my POV very well, BrokenDaisy!

yearsofpain25 posted 2/12/2014 14:12 PM

I agree with Broken Daisy with one caveat. For the most part they should be in the know and have the parent's engage them and work with them. But I also believe it depends on the situation. Sometimes maybe it is better to tell later. It's a hard decision to make and I think it differs from family to family.

This thread is the reason I'm here at SI. I'm not a BS or a WS. I'm a BC (betrayed child). 25 years later and I'm still dealing with this shit from my mother's A(s). My story is different than most. That said, my kids right now don't need to know about all of my family of origin (FOO) issues. But you better believe that I'm going to tell them as a life lesson someday. How could I not? So much carnage and damage resulted from infidelity that my FOO is a complete wasteland. I feel I owe it to them to discuss and learn from it. When, if, any of my three children (current ages 10, 8, and 3) ever decide to get married, I plan on sitting them down with their fiancees and fiancee's parents to discuss the damage that can come from infidelity. Will they listen? Who knows but it may give them a fighting chance before they enter marriage.

Kids environments are forever changed whether they know it or not. It's what we do with their environment and how we lead them through it that matters. Yes, I would tell the kids. Many times they know a lot more than you think they do. Trust me. I'm a walking example of that.

Dawnie posted 2/12/2014 14:24 PM

For some god forsaken reason 5 years ago my mother told me that she had a boyfriend who she loved very much..... she said that she had no intention of leaving my father. She was staying with my father for financial reasons and was not willing to break the family up for her selfish needs. I told her I didnt want to know this and never wanted to talk about it ever again. To this day I dont understand why she felt the need to lay this on me. We have never spoken of it since... this was 1 year before my D day. When my D day hit a year later it REALLY put a wedge in our relationship... she was an OW and a WS to my father...and I was a BS... not a good combonation. To this day our relationship is not the same... in a way I resent her and think so much less of her... and I think she knows it.

So in response to your topic, I would say no, they do not need to know.. it doesnt change what happened and only causes unneeded hurt and resentment.

BrokenDaisy posted 2/12/2014 14:42 PM

Dawnie just for the record I'm not talking about a selfish WS using their child as a confession booth. I'm talking about keeping children informed of their circumstances after one parent blew up the family. Lovingly guiding them to healing and answers to how to live an authentic life and not hurt the people close to you. Your mom did a selfish thing. It wasn't about being honest with you and guiding you through life's pitfalls. It was about justifying her actions. It was manipulation and backhanded. That's not open communication (what I am trying to encourage here.) She (mis)used you. Didn't protect you. I'm so sorry you had to go through that. I can only imagine how horrible it was. (((Dawnie)))

Kids environments are forever changed whether they know it or not. It's what we do with their environment and how we lead them through it that matters. Yes, I would tell the kids. Many times they know a lot more than you think they do. Trust me. I'm a walking example of that.

This! I am so sorry for what your mom did to your family. (((Yearsofpain)))

Nature_Girl posted 2/12/2014 15:11 PM

I've told the kids that the reason for the divorce is because he broke promises & lied to me. They have requested more details but I have not as yet been forthcoming. My life, going back to my childhood, has been completely shattered by lies & secrets. I will NOT continue to live in darkness, nor will I force my children to live in darkness. The truth sets you free.

million pieces posted 2/12/2014 17:48 PM

I think many of you have misinterpreted my post. I never said that I would never tell my kids or that I hope they never ask. I said I was OK if they never did, because I understood. I will answer any questions that they do have if and when they ask them. There is no hiding what their father did. He left our house, left me a wreck, and moved in with his AP now wife. They got married a couple of months after our D was final. It is out there in the open. My kids were too little to understand at the time, but it is/will be pretty obvious as they get older (they were 4 and 7 when he moved out).

And the advice of my IC, the MC, and my kids' IC, pediatrician and school psychologist was not to mention their father's infidelity (at that time). Do you not think that I explored my choice thoroughly? So much of a kids' self worth is wrapped around how they feel about their parents. When I asked about in the future, when I thought they would ask more questions, that is when my IC said that they may never ask.

And I can't believe it was mentioned that keeping the secret was for me and not to protect my ex. Are you kidding me? You want to know how hard it was/is not to tell them exactly who their father is? It would have been so much easier to tell them the truth. And I am not doing it to protect my ex either, I did it for my kids. This is/was the right thing for my kids, my family. I am not presuming to say that my decision should go for everyone.

[This message edited by million pieces at 5:49 PM, February 12th (Wednesday)]

tryingagain74 posted 2/12/2014 18:35 PM

My sons wanted to know. I'd think the topic had died down, that my euphemistic explanations would be enough, and then they'd start asking again anxiously. So, with the green light from my kids' counselor, I told them an age-appropriate truth: Their father broke an important promise in our marriage by secretly dating their now-stepmother while we were married and that he and I will never be able to get back together because he has completely broken my trust in him, and I could never trust him again the way spouses should be able to trust each other.

My feeling is that the kids should know the truth, and then the parent who is the BS should back off and let the kids create their relationship with the WS with the full knowledge (age-appropriate, of course) of what the WS has done. That way, the children feel like they have one parent they can trust, and if they still want to have a relationship with the WS, they can do so without being caught in the middle or feeling forced to take sides. My kids have every right to have a relationship with their father, but I feel it must be based in truth. So long as I don't distort that truth or try to use it to deliberately turn my children again XWH, then I think the truth can be shared in a healthy way that encourages our children to be honest in and about their own relationships.

gahurts posted 2/12/2014 20:06 PM

I have older children/step children from mine and xWW's first M's and younger children from our M.

I told the older children outright that their (step)mother cheated on me. xWW's oldest son, who was 20 at the time said outright that his mother was acting like a slut but she just kept working on him until he accepted her version of the story of some sort even though he still thinks his mother did wrong. The sad thing is that his now xWW did the same thing to him that his mother did to me. Her younger son was 16 at the time and he appreciated me being upfront and honest with him. His mother was not telling him anything but was abandoning him to go see her OM and making him babysit the littles.

The three kids we have together do not know why we broke up as far as I know. I have no intention of telling them. They may have picked up that their mother's BF showed up awfully soon after our D but she did wait until after the D before she brought him around. If they ever asked me I would tell them the truth but if they don't ask then I don't intend to bring it up.

I really believe that we need to allow kids to retain as much innocence as possible. I do think we should be honest if they ask but if they don't want to know then I am not going to volunteer any information. Of course older brothers and sisters do tend to act as good information sources for younger kids so they may know everything anyway.

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