At this point DD16 knows that STBXH was 'unfaithful and inappropriate with other people'. This is because I had to ask her if STBXH was ever 'inappropriate' with her. A conversation no mother should ever have to have with a daughter. DSs only know that 'mom and dad are having problems'.
I do NOT want to lie, but I have to be vague enough to not scar them or cause 'parental alienation'. I will be discussing this with IC, but sometimes the advise of people who have BTDT is better. This is one conversation I don't want to be caught off guard for.
When people marry they make sacred promises to each other. Daddy did not keep the promises he made.
If they ask more say:
When you are 18 I will tell you the entire story.
Then change the topic.
Because they don't actually know what promises are made in wedding vows, they still don't know what promises were broken. At least I don't think they do. They have asked for more details, but so far I haven't provided more details. I've told them that these are adult/grown-up problems and that I absolutely would not discuss them while they are still so young.
I will never go along with the "we grew apart" or "we both share the blame" lies that some people shoulder. EX has told the kids that the divorce is solidly my fault because I'm the one who filed and I'm the one that wanted it. He conveniently left out the part regarding my motivation. Our family counselor & I jointly addressed this with the kids, telling them that just because I was the one who filed doesn't mean this was my fault, it just means that I had to make a very hard, adult decision based on information that I had at the time.
I've never let my kids watch movies or shows with overt cheating in them. As far as I know, my kids don't know what infidelity is. I know the day is fast & soon coming that they'll learn about cheating, and then I'm sure the direct questions will come. When they do I intend to be age-appropriately honest and pray fervently that God stops me before I say too much.
At that point, I promised them that I would never lie to them. I had the option to withhold the gory details but still be honest with them. Yes, my kids lost some respect for their dad. But let's face it, he walked out on all of us, not just me. The respect was going to be lost no matter what I said. (They have been able to repair their relationship with him over time - because he's made the effort.)
My point to you - Kids today are a lot more savvy about the ways of the world than we were at their age. They hear things at school, on TV and on the web that we never thought of at their age.
IMO, you should tell them the truth. It's ok to tell them facts without the gory details. "Dad chose to break our marriage promises." If they ask how - "He chose to date someone else. People promise not to date anyone else but their spouse when they get married." And let them lead the conversation from there.
One other thing - in my situation, Mom and Dad were not having problems. We never fought. We always held hands, kissed, hugged in front of the kids. I thought we were happy. My H never acted differently towards me and I was completely caught off guard. I haven't had a chance to read your story, but if you were caught off guard too, I think it causes more confusion for the kids to say that you were both having problems. You didn't have a problem - He did!
My 7 year old has had a hard time. The most I volunteered to him was that this wasn't my choice, and I didn't like it any more than he does. Felt I had to say something, I was the one in the new home, and my kids missed their home too- I felt like they thought I was taking them away from their home and momma.
Just another case of STBXH's bad choices putting me into an awkward situation.
I started with "Daddy hurt Mommy's heart and it can't be fixed". "Daddy broke promises and it can't be fixed." Then as they became older, I told them that "Daddy dated other people while we were married, and that is wrong". Then last year I'd say the entire thing came out since he started openly dating a man.
So, now when they ask (10.5 and 8), I answer truthfully with no gory details. My dd asked me one time, "Are you ok since Daddy dumped you?" I set the record straight. I deserved to be treated better, etc.
Ex did not want the truth out (what a surprise…)