My wife broke the news about my adultery to all of our children. She was very age appropriate and very honest with them. Today, nearly six years later, I'm so thankful she knew it was the right thing to do.
Our teenagers struggled greatly. They didn't trust me and they didn't respect me. It took a plan and a willingness for me to invest in life-long changes that they would appreciate as they witnessed the actions and follow through.
My wife and I created a strategy based on multiple books we had read. One of the books was, "Raising Godly Tomatos". We used the principles of keeping our teens close to us. We couldn't use all the techniques due to my adultery, but we were able to incorporate most. Another book was actually a CD series by Dr. James Dobson called "Preparing for adolescence". We listened to these CD together with our teens and pre-teens. It allowed us to discuss OPENLY all the pitfalls of growing up and how choices affect them everyday. It also was a huge opening for discussing my own poor boundaries and my own poor choices that led to my adultery. Another author that we have great respect for is Dr. Karyn Purvis. Most of her books deal with Childrren from hard places, but her techniques for parenting with respect and love while addressing poor behavior rather than tearing down the child is invaluable stuff. You can catch snippets on her facebook page or on youtube if you want to see what I mean. Another valuable book we used was called "His needs, Her Needs For Parents. It offered some techniques we were able to implement into our plan also.
We spent a great deal of time discussing situations that we needed to address. The hardest part was creating an environment of respect. It took a great deal of purposeful planning.
I had to learn how to act thoughtfully rather than reacting to my teens disrespectful behaviors. I've seen some parents actually attend anger management courses to find some of the tools that can teach this change. It's amazing to find all the tools available for parenting, but remember you may have to make modifications due to the loss of respect for your authority as a parent that committed such a deep betrayal of the family.
One tool my wife and I used early on was any time our kids asked to do something that we knew would be a "No" She was the one that delivered the news. She accepted that role because she knew our teens wouldn't respect my decision and might argue with me, creating animosity that we were trying to work toward eliminating.
One of the don'ts for me was to avoid the trapping of becoming a Disney Land Dad. It was about being together, not about our kids being entertained.
The goal for us wasn't about creating obedience in our teens, it was about re-establishing the broken connections. We find our teens are willing to conform to our rules when they feel heard and respected and feel connected.
Wishing you well.... I have a great deal of respect for anyone that searches out answers to becoming a better parent. WH (me)
D-Days April - Oct. 2007 Recovery started Nov. 2007
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