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Tiger Woods recent confession and discussion about his treatment has drawn attention to the effects of infidelity on the entire family. Unfortunately, Tiger is not alone, couples every year are faced with how to talk to their kids about infidelity. How much do you tell them? How should the hurt parent express their feelings about the indiscretions? Should the kids be told at all?
It is one of the most difficult things to endure when you find out that your spouse has been unfaithful. If you’re the one that has cheated, you probably realize the amount of pain that has been inflicted on your spouse. What you may not comprehend is the pain that your child can feel because of infidelity. This is a crucial time for your children. It will either be an opportunity to open the doors for healing or create an even more hurtful situation depending on how it is handled.
The following are five tips to keep in mind when having that family meeting to tell the kids what has happened:
1. You want to keep in mind that your kid’s belief of who their parent was can be shattered when they find out about the betrayal. Therefore, keep away from emotional, hurtful conversations that paint the betrayer as a bad person in front of the kids.
2. It is most effective to have both parents present while telling the kids (age appropriate) what has happened so that the betrayed parent can demonstrate strength and resiliency to prevent the kid(s) from fiercely going into protective mode of the hurt parent.
3. The hurt parent will need to be careful to not shed the betrayer in a bad light in front of the kids so that the kids do not feel that they are being disloyal to the hurt parent if they forgive that parent.
4. Remember the kids may potentially take it personally, so the parent who did the betraying must be available to respond to their kid’s comments in a non-defensive manner and without making excuses or trying to justify their behavior.
5. It is recommended that the parent who has been betrayed show that they are not defeated and can take care of themselves. This is setting an example for the kids as to what to do when they are betrayed or hurt.
It is important to remember that when an infidelity is exposed, it not only affects the betrayed person but all the family members along with friends of the couple. When the couple is open, especially with their children, it can help begin a healthy healing process for them.
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