If daddy's a cheater, how do you break it to the kids?
The stories keep on coming. Christie Brinkley and Peter Cook, Madonna and A-Rod and Sienna Miller Balthazar Getty are all involved in presumed affairs--and there are young children in the picture. We asked momlogic contributor Shannon Fox about how to speak to kids if this happens in your family.
"In these particular cases, the children are mostly too young to talk about the sexual aspect of an affair. In general, I don't recommend that couples explain specifics of their split to their children. Affairs especially are always very damaging to children, no matter when they find out.
Hopefully, because these kids are this young, they may be safe from the public element. The older ones may be at risk because kids will always say mean things. But, your job as a parent is never to demonize the other parent.
Your kids need to believe--for their own sense of security--that both parents are always right, that they always look out for their best interest, and that they will always be there for them. You will undermine their sense of security if you speak poorly about their parent. Your kids need to have such faith in their dad that they would respond to any outside suggestions by saying "My dad would never do anything like that to my mom."
As a therapist, I usually encourage honesty, but in this case, the truth is more harmful to the child than a white lie. Eventually, things will become apparent, and they'll comprehend what an affair is and what it means.
You cannot protect your children from their parents' failings forever; it's ideal to put that off as long as possible. The moment that your children find out that you and your spouse are not perfect can be traumatizing, so you want to protect them from that.
If for some reason there is no way to avoid them finding out--for example, they witness the affair with their own eyes--both parents need to get together and talk about it to their kids as a unit. If the marriage going to go on, ideally the father would say, "I was spending time with another woman and I hurt Mommy's feelings and I will never do that again because I care about her." If there will be a split, you can say something like, "Daddy was spending time with another woman and it hurt my feelings." It doesn't vilify him, but explains the situation.
As the saying goes...'Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned.' It's important not to take out your anger at him on your kids. He loves your kids and although he did something that will end up hurting them, it's your job to minimize their pain."
See other famous cheaters and their scandals from over the years...