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Divorce: Should You Lie to the Kids?

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In the Guardian, Juliet Bridges writes an essay about how she and her husband split seven months ago -- but they have decided against telling their daughter, 9, and son, 7.

family at the beach

They still spend holidays together, and have one family meal or outing a week. They're even going on a family vacation this summer.

Juliet says that she and her husband don't want to "upset" the children, so they have avoided telling them they're done for good. Instead, they say that Daddy is "away on business" or "working" when he's not there.

"Secrets are terrible things," says child psychologist Kathleen Doorbar. "They are infectious and destroy families. You develop a culture of keeping things to yourself. Secrets are something all child abusers rely on: 'Don't tell Mommy, or something bad will happen.' What you're doing in this situation is trying to protect them, and you're doing it for all the right reasons, but in the long-term it doesn't work."

Do you think Juliet should tell her kids the truth ... or protect them from it?

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4 comments so far | Post a comment now
Leslie July 12, 2010, 2:50 PM

I believe we should be honest with our children about these big things. Will her kids be upset? Yes, of course. But they will feel as though their parents trust them enough to confide in them. It’s going to be much harder to explain themselves down the road. What incentive would your child have to tell you the truth about drugs, sex, or any big issue if they found out you had been hiding something like this from them?

Anonymous July 12, 2010, 4:34 PM

This is crazy. You can’t keep something like this secret forever.

Anonymous July 12, 2010, 4:47 PM

I agree with the other two posters. Sometimes real life sucks but growing up in a family where we were always told to keep secrets is so much worst.
They should tell them.

Anon July 14, 2010, 7:45 AM

When my mom got sick with cancer when I was in high school, my parents chose not to tell us. I found out she was dying on my 18th birthday. Please, tell these children what is going on. You have no idea what that secret will do to them!

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