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In Part 1, I discussed why most affairs fail. If you have kids, your risk of failure is even greater. If you do decide to separate, divorce, or continue with an affair, Part 2 contains a list of Dos and Don’ts for parents to follow.
- Do make sure your kids have someone to talk to: a counselor, clergy, or other trusted adult besides their parents.
- Don’t think that just because they’re not talking about it, they aren’t struggling.
- Do answer their questions honestly, but with restraint.
- Don’t burden children with information they don’t need to know and won’t be able to forget. Remember: They are counting on you to make them feel safe in the world.
- Do treat your spouse with respect. Your kids need two parents who can disagree, be angry, even fall out of love, but never be disrespectful of one another.
- Don’t talk negatively about your ex or their affair partner to your kids, or within earshot of them, or in texts. It hurts them and makes you look heartless, cruel, or petty.
- Always always communicate directly with your ex about changes in plans, requests, complaints.
- Don’t put your kids in the middle. For example, Don’t pressure them take sides or ask them to “get your mom to say yes.”
- Don’t pump kids for ‘dish’ on ex’s affair partner
- It’s okay to share your sadness with children in general terms about what’s happening.
- Do not over-share. For example, don’t discuss a spouse’s abusive behavior, unless the child has witnessed or overheard it, or you have concerns about the child’s safety with the other parent: chemical use, violence, extreme volatility.
- Don’t use a child as your confidante. This is damagaing to teenagers as well as children.
- Don’t expect them or guilt them into taking care of you.
- Do assure them you are getting outside support (and get it!)
- Do comply with agreements between you and your ex.
- Don’t bribe kids with things the other parent can’t or won’t get them.
- Don’t ever ask them to keep secrets from their mom or dad.
Above all, remember: Nothing you do as a parent is more important than keeping them healthy, mentally and physically during this difficult time for your family.