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Telling the children

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TwoDozen posted 3/25/2021 10:29 AM

I am looking for age appropriate scrips for telling the children that mum and dad are separating and the reason why

WGF wants to go down the mum and dad donít love each other anymore route but I am adamant they need an appropriate version of the truth and not to lie to them.

Besides I haven't fallen out of love with WGF and neither (to my knowledge) has she fallen out of love with me. We are just not cut out for the hard work of R and as someone on here has in their signature love is not a measure of how much pain one person is willing to endure.

All the children are all old enough to know what cheating is but have zero 1st hand experience of it. The youngest is 15 and the eldest is a young adult. All still live at home and are not self sufficient.

Separating will include selling the family home and therefore the children will be moving between mum and dads new abodes. This will likely entail sharing rooms with their younger / older siblings and generally a less comfortable existence than they currently enjoy.

Having personally been through a year + of something akin to depression myself and now witnessing WGF going through all the same stages I went through last year, it would be naive of me to think that the kids wonít experience something similar so I need to tell them but also somehow sugar coat it at the same time so they donít go off the rails.

Ideas or suggestions?

[This message edited by TwoDozen at 10:58 AM, March 25th (Thursday)]

twicefooled posted 3/25/2021 12:01 PM

Mine were 9yrs old and 6yrs old when I left their dad.

I told them that "mom and dad have grown up issues, but we both love you very much and will always be here for you."

As they've gotten older (they are now 17 and 14)they are asking more questions. In my specific situation, their dad is an addict (active) so we have never had the cheating discussion because the drugs are really the issue.

Good luck!

BluerThanBlue posted 3/25/2021 12:04 PM

No, you shouldn't give your kids a bullshit story that's completely untrue. Also, given your kids' ages, it's possible to have a truthful but reasonable discussion.

"Your mother and I are splitting up. We tried really hard to work things out but it wasn't possible.

There will be a lot changes happening, including moving to seperate homes, but we love you, and will do everything we can to give you the help and support that you need to get through this."

If they press you for a reason why, I think it's fine to tell them (without editorializing) that their mother had an affair. If they get angry, acknowledge their feelings, but let them know that you still expect them to treat her with the respect she's due as their parent.

Then you just give them the time and space to ask questions and express their feelings.

Phoenix1 posted 3/25/2021 12:34 PM

Always be honest. They will become resentful if you are not, and they learn the truth down the road.

Something along the lines of, "WGF had an affair and we can't be together any longer." Basic, but truthful.

Then expect questions. May take a while, depending on how they process things individually, and some kids ask more questions than others. No matter what, answer honestly. Doesn't mean bashing the other parent. Just be factual. I told Xhole I was going to be honest to our kids and not cover for him. He wasn't happy, of course, but it wasn't my problem any longer and I had covered for him to keep the peace until I did kick him out.

My youngest was 16 when I kicked her father out. I told her the truth - he was cheating. As time went on, she asked more and more questions as she put the puzzle pieces together. I promised her I would always be honest, and I was. She also shared some things she heard/saw that helped fill some gaps for me as well. She now knows everything. She has expressed several times how much she appreciated me being honest with her and not treating her like a little kid (her words). She was also very emotionally mature for her age.

This0is0Fine posted 3/25/2021 13:50 PM

"Your mum had an inappropriate relationship with her coworker. We tried to work through it, but we couldn't hack it. We love you both very much. You didn't do anything wrong. We know this is hard for you, but it's what will ultimately be best for everyone."

nekonamida posted 3/25/2021 15:18 PM

Unfortunately, they're old enough that being vague probably isn't going to be enough for them. They deserve to know that your WGF cheated and that the best way forward is separation. What is important is that you focus on how you both love them, they are in no way responsible for what happened, and that you will be putting them first in this.

nekonamida posted 3/25/2021 15:24 PM

I'd also like to add - I don't think it's a great idea to try and not reveal the A because both of them are old enough to have accidentally witnessed something about it already. Seen a texts they weren't supposed to, picked up on a strange vibe when your WGF mentioned him, or overheard you and her talking/arguing. If that happened, they will know that you aren't being honest with them and it will affect your relationship more than if you show them the respect of giving them the truth.

Unsure2019 posted 3/25/2021 15:45 PM


I was really hoping you guys would make it. Just sorry that itís come to down to this. You mentioned that both your WGF and your therapist think youíre making a mistake and that WGF was starting to do some of the work. Is there any chance, even a small one, that R might be back on the table? If so, you might want to delay telling the kids until you absolutely have to. Hoping for the best for you.

AboveAverage7913 posted 3/25/2021 16:30 PM

Preparing for this discussion myself, I recently read "How to Talk to Your Kids About Divorce" - Rodman.

I haven't implemented it, I'm just starting my diligence, but some of the suggestions that ring true are:

- don't tell them until you know who/when/where, i.e., when are we moving, where are we moving, what is the custody schedule, will they still attend the same schools, etc., etc. - basically try to minimize uncertainty in day-to-day existing because their world will already be upside down

- don't badmouth or assign blame, don't alienate your co-parent and make a difficult situation worse (or invite retaliation), don't make your issues your kids' issues... (I think this is partially in conflict with "be honest", especially for the BS)

- deliver the message together, do not do it during a holiday or family event or birthday, do it when they will have time to process with you or alone, before returning to school or work

- consider having counselors lined up in advance, or even start seeing them before the message is delivered so that the kids are already acquainted and comfortable with support resources

In my case, youngest is 6, oldest is 12. It's killing to envision what this is going to do to them, but I believe that the alternative - modeling a dysfunctional relationship - is likely worse.

Marz posted 3/25/2021 21:17 PM

WGF has a boyfriend so we canít be together anymore. Simple truth.

Never lie to your kids. The WGF has no say in this matter.

Underserving posted 3/25/2021 21:29 PM

No advice, but wanted to say, Iím so sorry itís come to this. Wishing you nothing but the best in your next chapter.

TwoDozen posted 3/26/2021 05:34 AM

Thanks for all the comments and advice and Iím pleased to see that the majority are in favour of truth, especially considering their ages.

I just wanted to address those who were and maybe still are routing for MR & Mrs 2D

We are both devastated that it has come to this and if Iím being completely honest weíre are both drifting in and out of denial of the situation we find ourselves in. Neither of us has gone to anyone else other than each other for comfort to ease our pains (I know, detach, detach, detach) and that is the crux of our current issue.

Whilst I take zero, nada, zilch responsibility for the A I have to hold my hand up and say that I am at least 50% responsible for our failed R. I wonít call it false R because I donít believe either of us was insincere in our desire for R to work and there is no ongoing A, unless you take the hardline SI approach that without NC the A is still ongoing.

Why do I take responsibility for the failed R, well essentially I have been unable to commit to it. I think fundamentally it goes against my core beliefs (ie this is, was and has always been a dealbreaker) so Iím in and out like a fiddlers elbow. Not physically but mentally Iím all over the place, I canít reconcile my mind with the 2 opposing forces of love vs disgust (just picked up that description this week from cheating in a nutshell)

So Iíve been searching, reading, researching, trying to find a way to retrain my brain to accept this happened, that sheís sorry, and that we could be good in the future.

All while this has been happening WGF cannot stop the blameshifting and minimising because the alternative to that is just far too painful for her to take. She wants to R desperately but just cannot do the fundamental work required to make that possible. She wants to take only the potential good and not suffer any of the consequences of her choices. Which I have surmised / concluded leaves those for me to live with.

I can say with absolute certainty, that for 24 years I did not think once about a life without WGF, not a single thought crossed my mind that I would ever leave WGF or that the grass was greener anywhere else. Yet I have had that thought as my waking thought every single day since Dec 2019 and whilst ultimately here I am 15 months later still with WGF I realised I cannot Do that every day for the rest of my life. It is not fair to myself or to WGF (even criminals are pardoned eventually)

Yes WGF is now in IC but this is also my IC. The same one who this week told me I donít need to know the whole truth, I donít need a timeline. So I donít see any eureka moments coming from her work in IC. I hope at minimum WGF is able to use IC to recover from the situation she put us in and be a stable mother and coparent.

So as Iíve mentioned before we are in the unenviable situation that we both still love each other very much but I am it seems unable to fully commit (at least not on her terms) and WGF is unable to give me what I have asked for which includes NC (AP is a colleague) in part due to the fact that I can offer her no guarantees that in doing so I can put this behind me.

So to answer a question posed above, do I see any hope? Yes 50% of me does, but the other 50% disagrees with me. Iíve listened to the positive voice for 15 months but now itís time to listen to the other one.

Today when I look to the near future I see a life without WGF, healing on my own, coming to terms with the consequences of those terrible choices she made, finding myself and building a new life, doing things I didnít do previously because I was in a committed relationship.

If I look further say 15 / 20 years I still see retirement at the seaside with WGF !!! And weíve even had this conversation. Crazy I know, Maybe that will happen, maybe we have to go through this stage to get there, to have some time apart to be able to get there or maybe (most likely) this is the beginning of the end of this chapter.

I wish things were different, I wish I was different but I canít spend the rest of my life wishing. I have to take the bull by the horns, take what appears to be the lesser of 2 evils and see where that leads.

Which brings me back to the purpose of this post, whilst the kids donít know it is essentially ďbusiness as usualĒ at home and therefore sharing the same bed etc which is not allowing either of us to even start the process of detaching. So this conversation with the children has to happen soon for both mine and WGFs sanity.

I wish I didnít love her still, I wish she didnít love me, I wish I could get even the slightest bit angry about all this but...... there I go wishing again, wishing hasnít worked for me for the last 15 months so why should I expect it to work in the future.

Still very heartbroken but trying to move forward the best way I know how.

Edited to add: my own research has led me to believe that true R and a better M is possible but that itís extremely rare and that itís only possible with 100% commitment from both spouses who are willing to do absolutely everything with a huge amount of patience, understanding, empathy to get there. That it seems itís not us hence our change in direction.

We donít have to like it, just accept it.

[This message edited by TwoDozen at 6:53 AM, March 26th (Friday)]

DanielJK posted 3/26/2021 07:05 AM

I hear you 2D

Iím all over the place, I canít reconcile my mind with the 2 opposing forces of love and disgust

I feel the same way. I love my STBXWW and hate her at the same time. It sucks.

And Cheating in a Nutshell definitely gives some good perspective on what you are experiencing. One of their basic premises is that you are asking your body to go against what it was programmed to doÖto protect yourself, to keep yourself safe. That fight or flight response is there for a reason, itís so hard to overcome it.

do I see any hope? Yes 50% of me does, but the other 50% disagrees with me. Iíve listened to the positive voice for 15 months but now itís time to listen to the other one.

I think you are making the right decision. Living uncomfortable is no way to live.

I have been with my wife for 24 years. We moved into an apartment together in 1998 and have lived together since then. Out timelines are very similar.

A lot of what you say here echoes with me. Weíre still together and the kids donít know yet what the end result is going to be. I also have to have the same discussion with my kids and still not sure what to say.

I have to take the bull by the horns

If I were to describe my situation right now I think it would match this entire post very closely.

The phrase that keeps coming to my mind is ďgo big, or go home.Ē Itís a huge step to detach. Iím having a very difficult time detaching, especially living together.

I hope we both find peace very soon. My initial court date for divorce is today and I am not looking forward to it.

Wish I could offer more than just this mere internet post. Good luck.

There were some good responses here that may be worth a read.

TwoDozen posted 3/26/2021 09:19 AM

@Daniel thanks

It seems I have a knack of decribing the trauma of infidelity that resonates with others

If only I had the knack to understand with absolutely certainty what to do with this profound knowledge for the best. So I am taking the only option I have that potentially allows me to find happiness again, not in the way I wouldíve been happy if the A didnít happen but a different happy.

It sucks being cheated on

It sucks still being in love with the person that did that to you

It sucks having to now watch that person go through the same shit I did 1 year ago.

And now it sucks that more lives will be ruined

If I could have my memory of the last 18 months wiped and not know about the A I would take it !!!

Unrealized posted 3/26/2021 13:19 PM

I told my 9 & 11 year old the truth, mum had been in an inappropriate friendship with her boss for some time. When they are older they will understand. I told them the guys name as well. I did this because I didnít want her to get away with the ďwe were unhappy b.sĒ and then start a relationship with him ďafterĒ we broke up. I told the kids that if I am angry itís not them itís the situation Iím in and how I am feeling. It might be wrong but I think I owe her nothing. She has already started changing the narrative with people and those I havenít told donít seem as friendly anymore. I certainly donít regret being honest with the kids. If you donít tell them the truth she will manipulate it and potentially turn it against you. Good luck.

AboveAverage7913 posted 3/27/2021 06:25 AM

I have to say, I really struggle with this.

I understand that nothing good comes from lying to my kids, and insulating my WW's behavior is likely to enable further bad behavior.

However I am also deeply concerned about my kids. I don't want to burden them with information that is not age appropriate. And I don't want to further escalate a conflict that could invite alienation.

Further complicating the issue is that my WW's AP is the father of my youngest daughter's friend and classmate. They are not super close, but they are social and see each other every day.

AP's W is also in WW's circle of mom friends, and exposing the A will truly blow up her world.

If I give my kids full exposure, there's a chance that one of them will express it elsewhere.

If I give them a general version (no names, no details), it's just an emotional burden - and WW will likely retaliate with some slanderous comments about me (undeserved, but I'm certain that the accompanying feelings will be real).

When I step back from all this, I recognize that WW has suffered from depression and anxiety since before I met her - her entire adult life. She has always projected her negative self feelings onto others, primarily me during our marriage. The A was perhaps an inevitable outcome of a lot of unresolved, unmanaged resentment she developed toward me as my career flourished, etc.

In this larger context, it doesn't make sense to focus the children on the A as the root cause. It was merely the proverbial straw.

We've got a ways to go before a D is finalized, and a lifetime after that. I am trying to balance near-term gain (best outcome for D) vs. long-term value (healthy emotional development for my 3 girls), including how they relate to me and to their mother.

I anticipate that in time, they will see that WW is not stable, and that I am.

I fear that exposing WW to the kids now only escalates conflict and burdens the kids, although I also fear that not being fully honest with the kids is equally problematic, or worse.

I wonder if anyone here can comment on their experience in more detail? Kids ages, what was said, outcomes?

nekonamida posted 3/27/2021 10:17 AM

Why do I take responsibility for the failed R, well essentially I have been unable to commit to it.

I want to say that I see this A LOT from BSes with unremorseful WSes when they first move into S/D. I know I felt it in my situation with XWBF back in the day. But here's the thing - it's not true. It's not reality talking. It's our own sense of control and in some cases codependency taking the wheel and saying, "You could have tried harder! You could have shown your WS how to be good! You could have held on until they got it!" It's this deeply ingrained idea we have that if we do X, WS will do Y and it's not true in the slightest. You can't control your WGF. You can't make her get on board with R. You can't make her commit 100%. But some how deep down it feels better to think that you can and to make sense of how our WSes can continue to be so difficult and blind to our pain if we believe on some level we were contributing to it and that's why things fell apart.

It's this comforting little idea that maybe if we do better next time, this will never happen. It will probably what you will think about if you 100% commit to the next woman in your life, maybe she won't cheat and if she does, she will act differently than your WW is acting right now. But unfortunately we just don't have that much control over other people and what they do.

From a logical stand point, you had a WGF who was adamant that you were responsible for her A in some shape or form and that she had nothing more to work on or figure out as long as you stayed "Super TD". Why would it make sense to be 100% in with someone who wasn't on board with R knowing that R requires her to be 100% in too? Why was it your responsibility to be 100% in when she was not? And how do you think that would have had any effect on how R went? Guess what - a lot of BSes in successful Rs were not 100% in until quite a long time into R and they made it. The only difference is that their WS was 100% in and doing the work so it allowed them to heal and feel safe enough to later be 100% in. If your WGF was acting as a good candidate for R, you'd be 100% in because you want to R. But she isn't so the failure of R is 100% on her.

Edit: I'd like to add too since I think that you're in a similar situation to where I was in some ways. I didn't fully understand the difference between a partner who appreciated me for me and what I brought to the relationship VS a partner who loved me for how I loved them until I was fully enmeshed in a healthy relationship. I was no longer fighting for affection by showing an over abundance of it from my end. I was no longer staving off relationship threats that had far more to do with my XWBF's moods and personal problems (like infidelity) than they did with what I was doing. The healthy relationship felt incredibly easy by comparison as soon as I was able to stop, breathe, and feel like my BF(now husband) wasn't going to be upset with me, freeze me out, or want to break up with me every 5 mins.

Unfortunately I think this is where your WGF is at and why she believes your relationship is fine now because she isn't seeing and loving you for you. Her love is based on how you make her feel by going above and beyond even when she doesn't deserve it. And it's also why your relationship with her is destined to fail because you're a human being with needs, desires, and you're going to need to take time and space to heal from the A. You won't be able to bring 100% to the table for a long while. She will look at this as a slight against her instead of reflecting on why you may feel that way and that will lead to her harming the relationship in ways. Possibly another A to get that validation or possibly detaching from you and a general end to the relationship. There's really nothing for you to commit to while she still believes what she does and bases her love for others on what they can do for her.

[This message edited by nekonamida at 10:29 AM, March 27th (Saturday)]

Unrealized posted 3/27/2021 11:38 AM

Aboveaverage- some good points and I think a mature way to look at it. I wish I could be so detached and forgiving for the pain my ww has caused - but I canít and I wonít. My kids were there when she walked out, so I think they deserve to know why. I think they deserve to know who because he may be introduced to them at a later stage. He is as guilty as my ww for their situation - their lives have been turned upside down. My wife also had anxiety and depression - thatís no excuse. She lacks morals and boundaries. After reading advise on her I now understand that there was nothing I could have done to prevent this, it was always to do with her. My wife has manipulated the story to some friends and her family. These people have distanced from me. I am thankful I was honest with the kids because I am sure she would have turned it around to be me. She has shown me zero empathy, absolutely zero. That I think is one of the hardest things to deal with. Thatís why my advise is to be honest with the kids.

Phoenix1 posted 3/27/2021 13:33 PM

Further complicating the issue is that my WW's AP is the father of my youngest daughter's friend and classmate. They are not super close, but they are social and see each other every day.

One of Xhole's OW was my oldest DD's best friend's mother. The girls have been BFFs since pre-school, and still are to this day. In fact, it was BFF that told DD about the A. DD then told me (she was 18 at the time). I worried the A would ruin their close friendship. They were like sisters, and even had a joint Sweet 16 birthday party. It was during the organizing of that event the A began. So, yes, OW was in our social circle as well. Since the girls met in pre-school.

Now? I routinely have dinner with both girls or engage in outdoor activities. The three of us have even had vacations together. I never bring up the A. No reason to as it's water under the bridge. Occasionally BFF will bring it up in a joking way. It's become just that - a long running joke.

I just wanted to share to give food for thought. The fear of the impact of such a close connection has been much, much different than the reality of how it actually played out. The reality has been no big deal.

AboveAverage7913 posted 3/27/2021 14:46 PM

@Pheonix1 - food for thought, thank you.

I feel there's a big difference between my D5 (now 6) and your D18. This went down last summer after our daughters had known each other in pre-K for less than a year. I busted the May-Aug A in Aug, but did not expose.

At one point in late June, WW hosted her AP and APW at our house under the guise of a playdate for the girls.

WW was 46, AP was 32 at the time. During the playdate, the adults hung out in the kitchen - it was the first time we hosted people at our house during the pandemic. The idea was that they were in our kindergarten "pod".

But it was really an opportunity for WW and AP to have a good chuckle at the expense of me, and AP's W. So clueless. They felt empowered to pull it off run in front of us.

I started to connect the dots in early July, and confronted WW in mid Aug with evidence (she would not admit anything until I presented hard evidence).

So the relationship between the kids is not that strong, although they will likely continue to have exposure and interaction in our small town throughout elementary school.

If my youngest was 18, it wouldn't be a question - I would be honest. But at 6, with so many years in front of her with exposure to these people... I worry about unintended consequences if kids handle it poorly and express it to others... e.g., "your mom is a ho" is not something any of my daughters should need to deal with - it's not their burden to bear.

Young girls can be brutal.

Actually, girls of all ages.

Actually, it's all people.

But you see my point, I think.

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