1. CRISIS MANAGEMENT

WHAT TO TELL THE KIDS

Assuming that you have decided to tell the kids about the affair, here are the most important points to keep in mind:

LESS IS MORE

Telling less is usually better than more. The range of options include:

 

  • You may just mention that mommy and daddy are fighting and need to take a break from each other.
     

  • You may share that daddy (assuming he is the unfaithful one) had been spending too much time with another friend and hurt mommy. 
     

  • For late teens only, you may share that one parent has had an affair and that you are in recovery. There usually is not benefit to sharing any details of the affair itself.

ADDITIONAL GUIDANCE

No matter how much you share, you should:

  • Reassure them that they are loved and will ALWAYS be loved.
     

  • This has nothing to do with them. When parents fighting, children have a tendency to blame themselves and somehow think that they are the cause.
     

  • Do not blame anyone. This will put the child in the middle.
     

  • Do not provide details to the child. This almost never makes anything better.
     

  • Keep the communication short, do not use your child to vent or for emotional support, and allow time for questions. 
     

  • If the child expresses a feeling, validate him/her. Don't try to make the feeling go away but let your child know that the feeling makes sense. 
     

  • Remind the child if they see mommy or daddy crying that mommy and daddy are just feeling sad and will be OK. 
     

  • If you’ve already made a decision to stay together, let them know that nothing is going to change.
     

  • If you are unsure about your marriage, let the child know that you are working hard to figure out what is best and will always be there for your child.
     

  • If you have decided to get a separation or divorce, that is a whole different conversation. See the guidance at Psychology Today.