Should You Tell Your Kids That Your Spouse Cheated?

Should you tell your children that your spouse cheated? In a word, no. Reason number one is the obvious. It is simply not good for the children. In fact, whatever the circumstances that lead to divorce, it is not in the children's best interest to know which parent is "at fault".

Isoina Ricci explains in Mom's House, Dad's House (1980, page 180):

" not give all the gory details of the fights you've had or how you feel betrayed by the other parent. Your children do not want to know--and they should not know--how you hurt each other. They need to be able to respect both of you, now more than ever. And most of all they need to know that it is all right for them to love the other parent even though you don't."

Reason number two is that infidelity is NOT the unforgiveable sin our society treats it as. Some marriages do in fact recover from infidelity, and some ex's eventually forgive each other at some point after the marriage dissolves. The hurt and anger experienced when one partner learns that the other has cheated does diminish with time. Chances are that you will regret sharing the charged emotions of the early rollercoaster.

Then What Do You Tell the Kids?

Again from Ricci, "Try to have a short, true explanation and, if possible, one that is phrased in a positive way: 'Your mom (dad) and I decided it is best for us to live apart' conveys a more reassuring message than 'We simply can't stand to stay together any longer' or 'We don't love each other enough to live together anymore.'"

Ricci emphasizes throughout her book the importance of chosing your words carefully when talking to your children about your breakup. Learning a positive language is just as important for your own healing as it is for your children. We create our own realities with the words we say. Forgiving a spouse who has cheated is incredibly difficult, but doing so releases you from the victim mentality and allows you to move forward to more enriching relationships.

Copyright Dineane Whitaker 2008 - Please do not copy and paste this article, but feel free to post a link using this url:

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Comments 5 comments

lancedimetri profile image

lancedimetri 8 years ago from Philippines

Dineane, I agree with you. That's true, maybe we could be friends after the marriage dissolves. And that time could heal what was torn down. Thanks..

dineane profile image

dineane 8 years ago from North Carolina Author

I have a very positive co-parenting relationship with my daughter's father. Though there was no infidelity involved for us, divorce is always difficult. We have come a long way and I do believe it is possible even for those in really ugly situations to at least become cordial, if not friends. Thanks for stopping by!

jay 7 years ago

what if the affair is all over town? wouldnt it be better for the kids to hear it from me than from strangers or their friends at school? why the mystery and secrets and lies? i think they already know but are protecting me.

dineane profile image

dineane 7 years ago from North Carolina Author

Jay, that's a lot tougher, and I wish I had more time to really think about my response. I think that sort of situation definitely calls for family counseling and professional advice on how/when/what to tell the kids. The overall spirit should be the same, I think, that you don't "bad mouth", even if you have to acknowledge that it's happened. I'll come back to this - your question really deserves it's own hub as an answer.

Levertis Steele profile image

Levertis Steele 4 years ago from Southern Clime

Young children should not have to carry the burdens of adult problems. That is too much. Parents should not turn children against each other. Love them enough to let them be worry free. The knowledge of the divorce is enough. Both parents should make great effort to spare the children as much pain and worry as possible. That takes love, and parents owe it to the children.

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