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My son knows about the A

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Tammy1 posted 7/9/2014 14:41 PM

My 14 year old son confided in me this week that he knows about my husband's affair. He's known for three months and has carried this burden alone. Shortly after dday I accidentally left my email open on my computer, and he read some between my H and I.

I was not prepared to have this conversation with him. He was sobbing and said how sorry he was for me. I told him that I don't want him to hate his dad, it was during a low point in our marriage, Dad is remorseful, we are trying to get past this, etc. He told me that if I can forgive his dad, then he can too. He also said that if he ever gets married, he will never do this after seeing how hurt I've been. Just more awful fallout from my husband's horrible, selfish choices. Nobody ever thinks about what their affairs do to their kids.

I strongly suspect that my 11 year old daughter knows too. (My son said he has not discussed it with her and won't.) At lunch last week she told me that she had an awful dream that Dad had cheated on me. My response was, "Well thankfully it was just a dream." She just stared at me, and I think it was her way of telling me she knows. Sigh... I don't know what to do. Should I tell her? I never wanted my kids to find out.

I have asked my husband to have a talk with our son. My dad left my mom for another woman. We never talked about it. I never got to express how angry I was about what he did to my mom. It ruined my relationship with my dad, and I don't want that to happen with my kids. I guess I'll bring it up in our next MC session.

[This message edited by Tammy1 at 2:43 PM, July 9th (Wednesday)]

TheIrishGirl posted 7/9/2014 14:57 PM

How awful for him. I hope the talk with your WH is helpful and that he's able to see the improvements with you two. It might be a good idea to keep giving him some updates on how you guys are doing, and how dad is changing so that he can see how health relationships work and develop.

For your daughter, I imagine she knows if she brought it up like that. It's a heavy topic for such a young child to bring up, and the 'dream' is probably the best way she could find. I think you should bring it up with her, "remember when you told me about your dream? I'm sorry I wasn't honest with you right then, but I was surprised and didn't know how to react. You were right, but your father has realized he was doing something bad and is very sorry. He's working on doing better, and he and I are working on our relationship, we both love you very much." If you don't want to go about it so directly, or think she may not actually know, you could go more along the lines of, your father did something that really hurt my feelings, but is sorry and trying to fix it.

yearsofpain25 posted 7/9/2014 14:58 PM

Hi Tammy1, unfortunately I don't have a lot of time at the moment to respond as I could probably write a book here. I'm a betrayed child and it's why I'm on SI (long story). I found out about my mother's affair when I was 16 (now 40). I've gone through a lot of drama myself as the child in this scenario.

What I can tell you is that when you do talk with your son, or daughter, they are of the age where don't talk to them about it. The important thing you should do is engage them. Talk WITH them about it. Let them express themselves. Let them ask any questions that they want to. Your WH is the one that inflicted the pain, he is also the one that will be the key to working on it and taking it away. He needs to have complete transparency with them as well as their trust in their father is also shredded. In fact, many of the things that are needed to heal you, are also necessary to heal them.

You've been through it too so you know how important in the healing process it is for them to express themselves. Your WH has a load of work ahead of him.


soccermom9 posted 7/9/2014 15:49 PM

I too am in a similar situation. My WH has 2 sons and I have a daughter and son- blended family. After he came home and confessed to me, he sat the kids down and told them of his mistakes. His sons and my children now have very harsh feelings toward him. I have been the only normalcy his kids have ever had! They are all teenagers and already in the crazy throws of life before this! I am looking forward to having someone at MC help us figure out how all of us can respect him again regardless of whether I stay or go.

healingroad posted 7/9/2014 16:41 PM

I'm wondering how my sons are doing. The older boy is 15 and I suspect he knows the basics. The younger boy is 10 and he seems mostly oblivious but has seen conflict between WW and me.

My thought for now is that since we still haven't started R it would be premature to talk directly to them about it, since the obvious question would be whether she and I will D, and we can't give a solid answer to that right now. And telling them that we're in limbo would probably hurt more than whatever benefit might come of it.

But hard to say. There doesn't seem to be any canonical wisdom on this.

Sparkywater posted 7/9/2014 18:19 PM

Tammy1 and Mhca

my son was 11 when my husband had his affair in July 2012. I was on deployment in Afghanistan so I wsn't around to see the full impact of what my husband did, and its effect on our child. To be honest, WE both thought he was too young to know anything. At least that's what everyone kept telling us as we tried to find our marriage again. But every time I heard my son had said he hated going over to 'their' house as in OW/OBS then I kept thinking he knew more. Mother instinct. I asked MC, IC... heck just about anyone who ever was around him that summer but everyone said he was too young. He was just being a moody pre-teen. WRONG!

It took a year and my cousin that saw the personality change in him as well as found out about the affair, before my son finally told us what he saw/felt and it was quite accurate. "I know what went on but I don't understand what went on." Nail on head for boy of his age.

Will the 10 year old know? He knows something is wrong, but probably doesn't understand what its about. He probably knows mom and dad aren't the same, and did he cause any of it? Reassure the children, mine blamed himself for being difficult to his father for why his father did what he did.

Yet, he most likely did it to get his father's attention away from the OW and back to him. My son actually said to his father, he felt like his father loved 'her' more then him or me. And all this while I wasn't even on the same continent! Oh to have a transporter the day I found out!

My son saw the flirting, yes my husband was THAT stupid! My son felt he didnt' have a family and even blamed me for awhile thinking I knew about it (Still in Afghanistan at the time) Kids can get quite confused with what they see. And he lied to me when I asked on the phone how things where, raved about a fishing trip but if you ask him now...he hates fishing because the first time his dad taught him the OW was there and all they did was flirt with each other.

My son doesn't blame me anymore, is VERY protective of me but his relationship with his father is weak at best. His words to his father, "You disappointed me." Not hate, not anger but disappointed.

Please don't listen to what 'others' say, trust your gut and watch your child/children. Their actions and words will tell you.

Your daughter bring up something like that. 11 year olds don't usually know about cheating, unless exposed to it. The question is how much do they know and how did it make them feel. Talk with them, or better yet go to family counseling. Because to be honest, affairs hurts more then just the hurts the whole family. The whole family needs to figure out how to be a family again; whether it be together or seperately. And it will also compound into your BS exactly how much damage was done to the entire family. Exactly how selfish they were.

Sorry still in the hate him for doing this mode.

I hope this helps you in your decision on when and how to talk to your children. I, like you had no one to help me, just one cousin and my mother instinct. There are few threads about this topic

h0peless posted 7/9/2014 19:48 PM

My parents tried to lie to me about their affairs. It was horribly, horribly damaging. Kids are observant and know more than you think.

If you think you are protecting them by not telling them, you aren't. You're damaging them permanently. They need the truth and therapy.

StillStanding1 posted 7/10/2014 09:24 AM

Hi Tammy,

First of all, I just want to say I am so sorry you are here, but glad you found this great place! I've gotten so much support and advice here -- better than I've gotten from either of the 2 MC's we went to!

The effect on kids is a real hot button for me, so I feel the need to chime in. I'll share a bit of my story -- sorry I know this will be long.

My DS (then 14) discovered the A by seeing a text on his dad's phone during a family vacation in July of 2012. He told my DD (then 16) and they cried and commiserated, but decided not to tell me. They didn't want to break up the family.

My DD ended up confronting my WH in September, but only told that SHE knew. My WH asked her what she wanted him to do - she was 16!!!! She didn't know how to answer. So Mr. Wonderful decided to keep his A going and let her deal with all her internal conflict. (yes, smoke still comes out of my ears over this!)

Fast forward to my DDay, Feb of 2013 when my WH said he was moving out. I asked if there was an OW, he said yes (knew he couldn't lie, as the truth was about to hit the fan). After we told the kids he was moving out, my middle DS told his dad he also knew about the A. That's when reality finally blew a small hole in WH's fantasy bubble.

My youngest DS was 11 at the time. He was so shocked by the separation and very clingy to his dad. We all agreed he didn't need to know the "truth" because it would only hurt more.

We struggled through R (maybe false R) for the summer and things took a bad turn in the fall. I found SI in August and through the advice of many here and also my MC, I decided I needed to be honest and authentic with my youngest DS in an age-appropriate way. It was horrible. But it was the right thing to do. We talked about it A LOT and I held him while he cried.

I continued to have conversations with each of my kids. No gross details, but I listened and also shared with them some of what I had learned about the "science" of A's and their addictive nature, etc. We talked about choices and truthfulness and all that. I think it's VERY important to be honest. We think it will hurt them worse, but as a BS, we see how much the lies and deception can be even more damaging than the A itself. I believe the same is true for our kids.

I wanted my kids to know that I will never lie to them. That they can count on me, no matter what. I don't do this out of disrespect for my H. He already chose to lie to them. That's his hole to dig out of. I want to be a rock for my kids. I want them to understand my reasoning for trying to R -- that I'm not a doormat... I want them to respect me.

I will tell you that my DS (now 13) had a meltdown in May of this year (and I thought we were all doing pretty well) and expressed his anger that he was "kept in the dark" for those 8 months while his siblings knew. I tried to explain that I didn't want to hurt him further and that I was in such pain myself, I wasn't ready to try to help him heal. But that I eventually decided that I had to be honest in all aspects of all my relationships and finally told him. That I didn't lie to him to hurt him, but I eventually understood that the lies would hurt worse.

Kids know WAY more than we think. I am CONVINCED of this. We do not protect them by hiding the truth. They are left to form their own opinions (everyone lies, everyone cheats, etc.) This is part of my WH's FOO issues. This way of thinking perpetuates the cycle. Our kids will repeat what they see. If kids are REALLY young, I can see not telling them. But teens and pre-teens are well aware of relationship dynamics and are seeing A's on TV all the time.

Sorry this was long, but I felt I needed to give context to my views on this.

I have a good friend who was a BC and advocates strongly for talking openly with your kids about the situation. Sharing your own thoughts, feelings, insights, hurts, and letting them share their own. I've seen my own kids "trigger" and didn't even understand how they are riding their own emotional rollercoaster. Our kids need our support. They need to talk through this to form some understanding. If you are trying to R, they need to know that you are in it if your WH is willing to do the work and change. That you have expectations and will not accept any more infidelity. This gives them a basis for how to handle their own relationships in the future. We need to lead by example.

I desperately wish I did not have to have these conversations with my kids and that this horror would have never have entered their lives. But we can't put the genie back in the bottle. It did happen and they ARE affected. The best thing we can do is to help them through it with honesty and compassion and lots of love.

I wish you the best. I wish peace and healing for you and your kids.

Tammy1 posted 7/10/2014 10:10 AM

Thank you so much for your thoughts and advice. We go back to MC tomorrow and I will discuss how to handle this. I'm just so sad for my kids.

StillStanding1 posted 7/10/2014 10:16 AM

I, too, feel terribly sorry for all the kids affected by infidelity. Their worlds are crushed also. Everything they thought they knew, understood, or trusted, has been turned upside down. It is horrible. Really breaks my heart.

Feel free to PM me anytime. Sending strength.

Lucky2HaveMe posted 7/10/2014 10:37 AM

I have asked my husband to have a talk with our son. My dad left my mom for another woman. We never talked about it. I never got to express how angry I was about what he did to my mom. It ruined my relationship with my dad, and I don't want that to happen with my kids. I guess I'll bring it up in our next MC session.

My dd, 17 at the time, overheard us *discussing* the fact that NC was never put in place. The next day we were in the car and she said "Ya know mom, I'm a good listener if you need to talk." I wasn't ready either, but it wasn't my timing that was important at that moment. We talked, cried, she wanted to give the OW a what for on the phone (I did not share the name/ph of OW, but sometimes wish I had )

That evening I told my H he HAD to talk to her. We could not live with this elephant in the room. I don't think it was that night, but shortly after he & she talked. She gave it to him with both barrels and he took it. I was very proud of both of them. It was very humbling and eye opening for H at the time.

I would encourage your H to talk to your ds. I hope your MC agrees. In fact, your MC may suggest he do it at an appt so he/she can guide the conversation.

needfriendshere posted 7/10/2014 11:02 AM

Tammy1, I am so so sorry you are going through this. The same thing happened to me a few weeks ago. My 19-year-old son read something I had written on my computer while I was away and found out about my H's A.

YearsofPain hit the nail on the head with this: "The important thing you should do is engage them. Talk WITH them about it. Let them express themselves. Let them ask any questions that they want to".

I was shocked at the questions my son had. He wanted details - who she was, how they met, did he love her, is he still seeing her. etc. He needed to hear the answers so that he, like me, could be assured that it was over. After that, he expressed (through tears) how grateful he was that I had forgiven my H and that he knows how much my H loves me and that he forgives him too.

When I told my H that he knew, the closest thing he could do to "talk with our son" about it, was to hug him after a sermon at church about faithfulness and tell him, "I am so sorry. I have been horrible to your mother all these years." That meant a lot to my son, who really doesn't want to get "into it" with his dad.

Like your son, he sees how much this whole thing has affected me and, although he forgives his dad, he has got to be angry. I know that he is disappointed in him.

When our spouses cheat, they become so self-centered and selfish. They do not think about how many people they are hurting with their actions. My son will never be the same and it kills me. The good thing is, like your son, he swears he will never do anything like this to his wife when he marries someday. I thank God he still wants to marry!

As for your 11-year old, I would not just come out and tell her. I would, instead, ask your son if she knows and take it from there. She is still so young and I am not sure how much of it she will understand. If she knows, I would, again, ask your son what she knows exactly. Heck! When I was 11 years old, I thought I could get pregnant from French-kissing!

I wish you the best of luck with this. And, again, my heart goes out to you. I know that, for me, it felt like Dday all over again.


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