Family Affair: Do I Tell the Kids They Cheated? 

If you, or your spouse, are having an affair — it’s important to decide who knows what when you address the issue. Most importantly, what (if anything) do your kids know about their parents’ extra-marital relations. This is ultimately up to the parent who did not cheat. But, making the call either way has a few implications. There is no simple answer to the question, and the best route for your family might not be the best route for another. No matter how you go about it, it’s important to take time with the decision.

Family Affair: Do I Tell the Kids They Cheated?

Ultimately, this decision should be made by the two of you together. You need to weigh the pro’s and cons of doing such. Many parents decide to withhold this information from their kids, especially if they are younger (particularly the 1-12 range). But, others will decide that transparency is more important than putting their children through the emotional pain.

Consider if your kids will even understand

Before deciding if it’s right to involve your children in this aspect of your marriage, you have to decide if they will even understand what this means. Telling an 8 year old “Mom/Dad had an affair”, will hold little to no weight, and likely will not affect them— because they won’t understand. But, telling a 14 year old the same thing, will be earth-shattering. Think about it. Your kids idolize you, whether they admit it or not. Therefore, telling them that their idol has made a maritally-fatal mistake can have some serious implications.

Decide where you go from here before deciding who to tell

Your marriage is your business— the two of you, exclusively. It is up to you to decide what aspects of your marriage become public— even to your children. Therefore, it’s important that you make a decision about your marriage before you open it up to other people. If you and your spouse are going to stay together and work it out, telling your kids is probably not a great idea.

You are ultimately deciding what kind of relationship your child will have with their Mom/Dad

Having an affair is a highly selfish decision to make. However, you have to decide what community you want it to affect. Is this a decision that should directly affect you and your spouse? Or should it affect you, your spouse, your children, and other parts of the family? This is a personal decision, and one you will have to make for yourself. But, before you do— we urge you to take time with your choice. We wish you the best of luck in dealing with this uniquely difficult time.