“So what do we tell the kids?”
“You know kids, your father just didn’t love me well enough over the years, so I became interested in another man, we had sex (which I could justify in my mind) and now your dad is angry with me. He’s just as much as fault as I am, so he just needs to get over it so we can move on.”
“Well kids, your mom just didn’t want to have sex with me enough to satisfy my desires, so I’ve had many affairs and one of them was with a same sex partner.”
“Kids, our marriage is in trouble. It’s nobody’s fault, we’re having trouble getting along. Things like this happen every day and while unfortunate… it is what it is.”
What would you tell your kids if you had an affair?
Here are several guidelines:
Children need to have parents explain why the home has tension. If not, they will internalize all of their anxiety which will be unhealthy for them and is unfair to their little minds and souls.
Information should be age appropriate. By the time they are eighteen, they should know the truth about the family system that produced them. Otherwise they will walk into adulthood with unresolved emotions and distortions about relationships. If a child finds out what happened much later in adulthood, they become angry and resentful that they have been kept in the dark. If the parent who had an affair dies and adult children find out about the affair, they are unable to resolve the conflict with the parent who inflicted pain (directly or indirectly).
Here are a couple of suggestions you may want to say to your children as you are trying to recover from an affair.
Children ages 3-14: “Your mother and I are having a hard time getting along. Kind of like when you and your brother argue over toys. We’re getting help from a person who is teaching us how to be better friends. We’re not perfect in our behavior, but we will try our best when we are around you. If you are ever scared or wonder what is happening, you may ask us any time.”
Children 15-18: All of the above… plus, “At some point within our marital unhappiness I had an affair with another person, which hurt your mother / father very much. At the time I felt justified, but I realize now that I never have an excuse to violate God’s commandments. God says we’re not to commit adultery and I failed to listen to Him. I know that this robbed you of my attention for some time and I can never give you back that time. I can only promise to give you my attention in the future. Your mom/dad has a right to divorce me, but they are trying to get over the hurt and learn to trust me again which is a really hard thing to do. We’re doing our best and it is a day to day journey. I’m sorry for the pain I caused you and our family. I ask your forgiveness.”
Truth is very painful in the moment yet it allows the emotional infections to drain which gives opportunity for the soul to heal.
Thanks for listening to something that is hard to hear.
Love and Blessings,
Milan & Kay