(Closed) Should parents tell children about infidelity?

posted 5 years ago in Emotional
Post # 46
4510 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: November 2016


ABL12490:  Yikes.  I’ve gone through this with my parents as well, but I was older than you.  My siblings and I ranged from 12-18 when my Mom sat us down and told us that our Dad was leaving, but she didn’t say why other than it was what he wanted.  Two years later, I was visiting from college with my boyfriend (now FI) and walked into the emotional shitstorm that was my Mom finding out that my Dad had had an affair.  The whole thing was awful and I wish that they hadn’t told us about it, especially not in so much detail.  As the oldest, both parents confided in me WAY too much and I was very uncomfortable hearing all of the terrible things about either parent.  I forgave my Dad almost right away; it took my sister a lot longer.  I think it was easier for me because I was 20 and could tell that he was truly sorry.  I also saw a lot of my parents’ incompatibilities and wasn’t really suprised that it all happened.  I’m also more like my Dad personality-wise, so I somewhat understood why he did it, even though I thought it was wrong and awful and adore my Mom. 

So, my opinion is no, I don’t think that the parents should tell their children.  Maybe adult children because I dealt with it as an adult and don’t consider myself horribly scarred or anything, but if that’s done, I think minimal information should be given, which is hard when there are a lot of followup questions (why? who? how long?).  I did forgive, and would definitely have regretted ending a relationship with my Dad over this one [admittedly large] mistake. 

Post # 48
79 posts
Worker bee

I just had a thought. Perhaps many have a differing opinion, and I am curious about what others think. What would you say if the parent was a serial killer? Many still have good memories of the parent because when the parent was home, they acted like a normal parent. When they would kill, they would be very different. Would you still want to know what your parent did?

I see the issues as very similar, that’s all. I’m just wondering… I am sorry if I hurt or offend anyone…

Post # 49
698 posts
Busy bee

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catpeaches:  I kinda thought the same thing at first, but it makes sense after thinking about it.

It is selfish because her mother stole the “perfect parent” image of her Dad from her. She said it herself that she will never look at her Dad the same. 

Post # 50
764 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2017

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ABL12490:  Yes, it definitely sounds like we went through similar experiences. Thank you for reaching out to me, I’m still pretty sensitive about it since my dad continues to try to emotionally abuse me (I’m just very angry about it all). If it was a one time thing, fine. But things were very rocky in my household for a very long time, and I clearly remember wishing my parents would seperate for years before they actually did. 

I hope you’re doing well <3

Post # 51
589 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2015

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kaitlynaubrey01:  No problem – It’s some sound advice I think it bears repeating 🙂 

Post # 52
47459 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

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riverose:  I don’t see the issues as similar at all. If you want to get answers to your question, I suggest you post your own thread, instead of threadjacking this one.

Post # 53
79 posts
Worker bee

My apologies. I didn’t mean to thread jack at all, and it wasn’t my intent.

Post # 54
3900 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: January 2017

Absolutely not. I was 15 when my mom had an affair after 15 years of marriage, she fell in love and then left my father and took my 2 younger siblings with her. I though it was all her fault so I stayed with my father. I resented her for a year anf a half… until I found out that my father had several affairs/indiscretions for the last 10 years of their marrige. I resented him a lot, I moved in with mom and stayed with for 10 years. My relationship with my father has been through many, many ups and downs thoughoit the years and even though I’m not really angry any more I still resent him a bit and hate what he did. And I resent that mom stayed with him through it all, and that they brought 2 more kids into the mess…She should have left the first time it happened, when I was like 5. I hate cheaters  I am paranoid about it, I have trust issues, I’m scared of their rotten cheater genes… (i know it sounds stupid but I hope I would never do anything like that)  I wish I never found out about all their dirty business… better yet I wish they never did it. 

Post # 55
4943 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: July 2012

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ABL12490:  No, children do not need to know the sordid details of a parent’s infidelity. 

I also wouldn’t “cut off” a parent for cheating. While I think it’s disgraceful and I’d be pissed/disappointed in that parent, their faithfulness in their marriage really isn’t my business, particularly if I am an adult child.

Post # 56
485 posts
Helper bee

This is interesting.  I never thought of parents not telling children, and if one of my parents cheated I feel I would want to know, but I realize that might not be appropriate, especially depending on the children’s ages.  One of my good friends experienced this when we were growing up–his dad had an affair, and his parents divorced.  We don’t talk about it much now, but I know I certainly haven’t “forgiven” his father (not that it’s my place to forgive or not, but I still have negative feelings toward him).

Post # 57
1444 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

My parents are still happily married with no infidelity that I’m aware of, so I don’t have personal experience with this, but I do think there are better ways to handle it than others.

There’s certainly a matter of what is age appropriate to consider. Like don’t try to explain cheating to a 2-year-old.

In the end I think it comes down to honesty and respect. I’m going to teach my children the value of those two traits, and that it’s not okay to date more than one person at the same time unless everyone knows and is okay with that, but most people don’t like to share their boyfriend/girlfriend. So if you and/or your partner feel that way, but grow apart, you beed to be honest instead of lying.

If my husband cheated on me and we had children, I wouldn’t tell them, but if they asked why I seemed sad I’d tell them I disagreed with a choice their father made, but it was private between us. If it lead to divorce I’d tell them that we had grown apart and decided we can’t grow back together. If they asked why and pushed, I might tell them that part of it was because of some choices he made. Conversely, if I was the one who had cheated, I’d admit that I made some poor choices. I think children can learn from your mistakes without knowing exactly what they are.

Post # 58
918 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2015

Personally, I feel there’s a huge difference between being honest with children, and using that honesty to hurt the other parent.

My parents seperated when I was 21.  My father left my mother for another woman, but he’d been unfaithful to her during most of the 23 year marriage.  I first figured it out when I was about 18…however, my father worked abroad so he wasn’t around much for the information to affect our relationship.

However, my mother used (and still uses) it as an excuse to badmouth and rubbish my father to me.  It’s now 26 years since he left her, and she’s even more bitter than she was the first day. She emotionally blackmailed me into cutting all contact with my father.  I’ve not seen him in 26 years.  I’ve had to hear details about their marriage that I just plain shouldn’t have had to.  I don’t care how old you are, having one parent use you to hurt another is wrong.


Post # 59
7659 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: February 1997

NO. Children are not your friends. They should never be told about a parent’s infidelity, IMO. 

FWIW, I do not come from a divorced home. As far as I know, neither of my parents cheated. I do have children of my own, and I cannot imagine burdening them with the knowledge that either of us cheated. Even if DH turned into an awful person who cheated on me, the kids would NOT need to know that. I would not want to ruin their vision of their dad. He was a fabulous enough man for me to marry and have children with. Just because MY image of him might be ruined doesn’t mean I should burden my children with that information.

Ugh. I think people need to keep the sordid details of their love lives to themselves and not overshare. I teach and I see first-hand the damage that a lot of this does to children. I work with children who seem to be 8 going on 48, and it just doesn’t need to be that way.

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