Should You Talk to Your Children About Infidelity?

Pete Uglow breaks down how, why, and when you should consider discussing an affair with your children.

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Though we work very hard to keep spouses together, we have to acknowledge that infidelity is one of the leading causes of divorce. When a partner cheats, it can greatly damage the level of trust in the marriage. Whether you choose to stay together or get a divorce after infidelity occurs, your children are also likely to be impacted by the affair. Deciding whether or not to talk to your children about infidelity depends on many factors, including their age and personality.

Younger Children

Children under the age of 10 often don’t understand what it takes to make a relationship work. They simply see whether or not their mom and dad are happy together. Many don’t even know at this age what intimacy is, so bringing the subject of infidelity up to them may do more harm than good.

Instead of specifically discussing what physical acts occurred in terms of the infidelity, focus on the emotional aspects. Communicate to your child that you or your partner did something that broke the others trust and you’re sorry for that and are doing your best to fix it. Anything beyond that is not necessary to discuss unless your child asks you a specific question concerning the situation.

Older Children

Children over the age of 10 are more likely to know the ins and outs of intimacy, or at least have a rough idea of what it is. They may also be starting to form an interest in romantic relationships as well, which makes it even more important to address the issue of infidelity with them.

While specifics regarding the names of who was involved and how often the cheating occurred is not necessary, more in-depth analysis of why it occurred is. It’s important for them to understand that cheating is not a normal part of a relationship and that when it happens, steps need to be taken to address it so that it doesn’t happen again. Having this discussion lays the foundation for their future relationships regarding trust, love, and intimacy.

When You Don’t Have The Answers

It’s okay to tell your children that you need time to think before responding to questions. It’s better to answer things with a clear head than to give them answers based on emotions. If unsure, it’s important you seek the help of a professional, such as a relationship and infidelity expert or a therapist, who can best help guide you towards the best decision for your family.

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