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Telling the DCs about Divorce - Infidelity Involved

(17 Posts)
dontknowwhatcomesnext Thu 14-May-15 15:29:24

Hi all

My story is in this thread: www.mumsnet.com/Talk/relationships/2360927-Yes-Im-another-one-Husband-doesnt-love-me-anymore?pg=5

We are seeing a counsellor tomorrow to discuss how to tell the children and other co-parenting issues, but I was interested in your views on how much to tell our two DDs, 12 and 10 (almost 11). Both are intelligent and mature (as I know all of yours are too, of course . . .).

Regardless of how we come out on this as an initial discussion, I'm about as sure as I can be that one or both of them will, within a day or two (if not that night), ask whether one of us has had an affair. They certainly know what one is.

So I guess I'm asking, would you tell them (age appropriately) that Daddy had a girlfriend (actually 2, but let's leave that aside . . .) and that's not OK in a marriage, so we are not going to be together, we love you, etc.? Or would you just keep more a general discussion and take equal blame (which I would probably be physically gagging to spit out, but let's suppose I can theoretically do it)? If the latter, what would you do if we get a subsequent question about an affair?

Honestly, thoughts of any sort are appreciated.

FelicityGubbins Thu 14-May-15 15:48:17

I would say better to tell the truth than have them be betrayed by both parents, even if one was doing it with the best intentions, they don't need graphic details but I certainly wouldn't lie.

Twinklestein Thu 14-May-15 15:50:50

I've not been in your situation so I can't give you good advice, but I've been your daughters' age and I would never have wanted my mum falsely to take the blame for something that wasn't her fault.

They will suss he's got a gf, and they will figure it out. So don't lie to them.

moonfacebaby Thu 14-May-15 15:56:25

Same thing happened to me but with younger children. Very savvy DD1 asked the dreaded question about an affair & at 7 years old, I told her the truth. Very age appropriately.

I want her to trust me. That she can ask me anything & I will do my best to answer her questions truthfully. I did not slag off her dad - as much as I wanted to!

Of course, her dad was horrified. But there'd been enough bullshit bandied about & I wasn't going to do the same.

Imbimba Thu 14-May-15 16:02:56

I found out about my Dad's affairs when I was 18, after they split when I was 11. It was a huge shock and with hindsight, I would have preferred it if everyone was honest from the start. I found it very difficult to get over when I was 18. So, I would tell them.

intlmanofmystery Thu 14-May-15 16:05:57

They are still children so I don't really know how much they understand how adult relationships work from an emotional perspective as much as the physical. They clearly know something is wrong but I would keep it simple and try not to assign or take blame. They will I'm sure be aware of the word "affair" but will they really get it? I don't know. Assuming you want to maintain a civil relationship with your exH and their father (effective co-parenting etc) I would do everything to minimise the impact on the children regardless of how you feel...

Flangeshrub Thu 14-May-15 16:25:47

Just been there OP. My DH was having an affair with a teacher of theirs. They are 6 and 4. My oldest DD is very clever and perceptive and I told her the truth. Daddy had got a girlfriend and married people aren't allowed to do that. Mummy was very upset and couldn't stay in the house with Daddy because she felt so sad that he loved another lady. However we both loved her blah blah . My 4 year old wasn't ready or interested in the reasons for break up.

I couldn't have lied. I never bad mouthed him though. I said it was complicated and adults didn't have stay married if they didn't want to and they are allowed to love who they want. They never stop loving their children.

He was furious. I don't give a shiny shit. He's never been a fan of 'honesty'.

LadyBlaBlah Thu 14-May-15 16:30:12

This is so hard.

No child wants to hear anything bad about their parents.

IMHO the ideal situation would be for the unfaithful partner to tell them the truth. We all know this will be massively minimised but at least it comes from them and you can never be held to account for saying something awful about the other parent (even if it is the truth).

Goodbetterbest Thu 14-May-15 17:22:41

We told our DCs (13 - 7) that we were really unhappy, couldn't make each other happy and we were being really brave and not going to stay married.

They must have picked up the vibes and although upset, weren't surprised.

They didn't ask the question so I didn't tell them. Despite the hurt and pain he put me through, I decided not to put them through the same. I would have told them something had they asked.

We put on a united front, he and I. Doesn't make me despise him any less, but the children haven't witnessed the bitterness he left behind. And I'm glad about that because he has left a tight family unit who are happy and complete without him.

PeruvianFoodLover Thu 14-May-15 18:07:00

It's quite possible that the DCs will ask each of you, at different times, and maybe more than once (as they grow older) the reason for the split.

If you can use your counselling as an opportunity to discuss this as a real possibility and both of you consider what you will say in response, it may make a difficult situation for the DCs in the future easier to navigate.

JohnFarleysRuskin Thu 14-May-15 18:10:36

I wouldn't take the blame for something I hadn't done. I wouldn't cover for someone who shat on me.

Be age appropriate and honest.

Andrise Thu 14-May-15 18:14:12

I have been through this with my children. TBH I also think the only honest thing is to go the "daddy has a girlfriend" route. I couldn't bear the idea either that my children might find that out years later and wonder why I had not told them the truth or that if we gave them something wishy washy they might believe in their hearts of hearts that it was their fault in some way.

It turned out that two of them had already been introduced to OW as "daddy's friend" anyway (but that's another story!).

MrsFring Thu 14-May-15 18:22:23

In our case the children were teenagers and H's affair partner was someone they knew; a 'friend' of mine. I told them as honestly and age-appropriately as I could but felt then, and still feel, that my H needs to sit them down and answer all their questions however excruciating an experience this may be. He's bottled it so far but I think it's only fair that the unfaithful partner should do this. After all, it's not just the wife who is betrayed but the children too.

One thing I would warn you about, if your kids are aware that you use MN and know your user-name then make sure that they don't do their own research. My 16 yr old DS did just that and found my original thread, gory sexual details and all. That was not a fun evening in the Fring household.

Cabrinha Thu 14-May-15 20:58:19

OMG MrsFring, that's terrible!
Poor you. Poor her.
Yet more fallout from arseholian XH behaviour, huh?

I'm interested in how many say they told. Surprised. But I get it, reading your posts.

My daughter was younger, nearly 5, and I just told her we didn't love each other.

I agree about not lying, and trust. But I'd still consider omission. Or plain refusal. My plan if she asks me when older, is to tell her that some things are private between parties to the relationship. Don't know if that will work!

I really hope she doesn't ask. I don't want to lie or give the impression that it was an affair. Because from the outside, sometimes people think that happens, and can be after a relationship has broken down. My XH had a nasty prostitute habit. I don't ever want to tell her about that sad

Good luck, whatever you tell them flowers

DinkyDye Thu 14-May-15 21:06:43

I would tell and have always said to DH if he ever did anything arseholey like an affair l would tell our DC.

norksinmywaistband Thu 14-May-15 21:17:33

I told my DC that we didnt love each other any more and therefore we going to get divorced. They were 3 and 4 at the time. Roll on 7 years and OW is still involved in their lives. I am very glad I have not said anything as they get on well with her.

My partner told his children the same after his divorce ( exw had affair) they were older 9 and 12 they have never asked for additional reasons as to the split.

I annoys both myself and DP at times, but both are of the mind that the childrens welfare is most important.

We would both now be honest with dc is they asked us directly

iwashappy Thu 14-May-15 22:41:35

Don't consider taking equal blame, I think it's important that you are honest. They need to be able to trust at least one of their parents.

Just tell them very basic facts that are appropriate for their age. I think they should just be told that their dad has a girlfriend so you can't stay married but you both love them very much and they will still see their dad even if he's not living at home. In other words very basic facts and reassurance as much as possible.

Try to avoid too much unnecessary detail, it's between mum and dad if they ask and try and avoid criticising your DH too much difficult I know

I am very sorry and hope it goes okay, I've been in that position although my children were older and it was really hard. flowers

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