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'Kids, Dad Had an Affair'

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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...

next: A Plastic Surgeon Reveals...
59 comments so far | Post a comment now
Lola July 18, 2008, 3:19 PM

That Getty guy should be hung from his cojones.

kreynyc July 18, 2008, 8:15 PM

everything i hate about upper middle class white people. (and i happen to have grown up as one.) cover up and lie. everyone knows when they’re being cheated on — especially kids. making up stupid excuses and stories is an insult to their intelligence.

Anonymous July 18, 2008, 8:23 PM

This lady that wrote this is a THERAPIST? Lie to your kids and cover it up? What an absolute butthead she is. No wonder the world’s a stupid place!

alison July 18, 2008, 8:31 PM

Didn’t Sienna Miller try to break up Sean Penn’s marriage just this past January? Google their names for a reminder of another couple with children threatened by infidelity.

ANONYMOUS July 18, 2008, 8:32 PM


Will July 18, 2008, 8:33 PM

This is messed up. Why does everything single out guys for cheating. I’m divorced and after going through marriage counseling to deal with the affair in my marriage that my ex-wife had, I learned that just as many women cheat as men. The only difference is that women are much sneakier with it. Kids need to be told the truth and how it’s the most painful thing a marriage can go through. Maybe only then will the number of affairs in marriage slow down when kids realize that it’s both mommy and daddys that do it and it’s the single most destructive thing to do to a spouse.

Melissa July 18, 2008, 8:34 PM

That is the STUPIDIST thing I’ve ever heard! Lies build into bigger lies. Why didn’t you tell me there is no Santa is NOT the same as Why didn’t you tell me mommy’s a piece of s*** If your dad OR your mom is a piece of s***, you should know what happened or, when you do find out as a teenager, you’ll resent the big cover-up.
This makes me sick. I guess single parents should just say “Mommy/Daddy is on vacation”??

Pamela July 18, 2008, 8:35 PM

Well, I turly believe you should be honest with your children. For some reason, to me, if they find out when they get older, I think it would crush them more. I have been down that road, but not infidelity but abusivesness and when I left I even though I could have shot my ex in the head, I never said anything bad about him to the kids. But children should be told honest things when a marriage is in trouble.

Anonymous July 18, 2008, 8:41 PM

You tell the kids that you couldn’t satisfy his/her needs because you are boring so mom/dad went elsewhere to get what they needed. So when mom/dad wants to be peed on you should drop your drawers and let it rain.

woman July 18, 2008, 8:44 PM

This woman therapist would love everyone to believe this…on the other hand, you have to be truthful to your kids! You have to choose what words to use and what to censore in your family when you have this talk. Chances are that if your children experience a cheating parent, they will not have as big as impact on if it ever happens to them. The truth, the truth, please!

anonymous July 18, 2008, 8:46 PM

Pursuant to advice from 2 therapists, I have kept my ex’s infidelities from my 2 teenaged daughters and have not told them the “real reason” for the divorce. As a result they blame me for moving out and when I impose discipline, they say they want to live with him because he’s nicer. It’s a really tough road and it’s extremely hard for me to take all the blame for his unfaithfulness and selfishness.

dennis July 18, 2008, 8:51 PM

i am a child of infidelity, and i wish i never found out . it hurts that much! no matter what age.

pamela July 18, 2008, 8:52 PM

First I think parents should be honest with their children,after all is that not what we tell them to be honest?How can a parent exspect their children to be honest if they cannot not even be honest themselves?Yes,it’s gonna crush them but they will get over it an move on with their lives as long as both parents work together for the sake of the children..your feeling for your spouse should NEVER enter into play were the children are CONCERNED.After all he-is still gonna be their dad,or if its the mom who cheats she-still is gonna be their mom.POR VIDA-IT DOSE NOT CHANGE JUST BECAUSE YOU MOVE ON OR YOUR MARRIAGE ENDS.I also hate this philsophy that parents should stay together for the sake of the children sometime a marriage is better ended.sometimes things like that happens and you have no control or sometimes two ppl,just don’t see eye to eye but after they get divorced they can be best of other man or women should come bewteen the parent(s) and their children they should always be first priority.

Tom July 18, 2008, 9:00 PM

Why are these headlines always slamming the male ? I know just as many two timing women that are married as there are men. Everytime you see a headline, it’s the male that is doing the screwing around. Are they all gay or what ? Last I checked, it takes 2 to tango and maybe we need to start seeing headlines such as “Why is mommy a tramp” or “why did mommy screw around on daddy” Come on people, lets give this a fair shake and not make all men out to be cheaters. Lets see some stories on the tramps out in the real world too

O July 18, 2008, 9:18 PM

WOW! … Always the guy’s fault huh?

My wife and I never had “relations” for over four years … she was always saying that she hated having sex “with a man” … I always thot that was odd … then she came in and told me that she was a lesbian … and then blamed me for the break up and told the kids it was all me!!! … I won’t destroy them by telling them the truth … they all hate me now and I never get cards, calls or anything for birthdays, Fathers Day or Christmas. … Sure I had an “affair” … I am a man … go ahead and blame me …

gw July 18, 2008, 9:29 PM

why is it the men who always get accused of cheating. my x is the one who broke up our family. if it the woman it’s okay but if it is the man we are all dog’s

mb July 18, 2008, 9:39 PM

Look at the site this article is on…and then tell me you’re surprised that they are singling out “dads” s being the bad one!

Lisa July 18, 2008, 9:41 PM

Hmmm…well, it was easy in my case. The liar-cheater was online getting off on gay porno, hooked into gay dating sites, and chat rooms where he was pursuing men,so when I accidentally found out I was so traumatized and shocked that I burnt the house down and lieing to the kids just wasn’t an option. But it didn’t matter anyway because I found out that my 15 year old knew before I did, which explained her total breakdown two weeks before. He is such a loser. No integrity.

Lisa July 18, 2008, 9:43 PM

The forgot to include a photo of a queer man up there along with the whores.

Bert July 18, 2008, 9:44 PM

How about, MOMMY is a cheater. Lets hear that story.

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