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Should kids be told of a parent's infidelity?

Some marriages wither to their ends, with both parties growing more distant from one another until they both are essentially living separate lives.

But other marriages self-immolate in a conflagration that threatens to consume everyone involved -- including the children. Relationships torn asunder by adultery frequently fall into that latter category.

The conspiracy of silence

Many adulterous liaisons go undetected. Some statistics suggest that upwards of 40 percent of married couples have wrestled with the repercussions of cheating spouses. Some marriages survive the trauma while others go belly-up.

Divorce and icy d├ętente between the spouses that can last for decades -- two possible repercussions of infidelity -- both affect the kids. Should parents level with them about the affair?

The elephant in the room

Certainly not all children need to learn that Mom or Dad stepped out on the other. Yet, sometimes because of the circumstances of the cheating episode or the chosen partner, it's inevitable that the truth comes out.

For instance, if Dad was dallying with his secretary, a woman the children know well and will now be seeing together with their father in the future, a frank discussion is probably in order. Likewise, if Mom waltzed off with Willy -- dad's oldest friend and the best man at their wedding -- they deserve to know why Mom is always over at "Uncle" Willy's house.

To deny a child the reality he or she can clearly discern is to do them and their mental health a great disservice. To be less than forthright with kids of an age and understanding to suspect the truth is demeaning and dismissive to them.

Divorce is a clear signal

If you are unable to tolerate wandering in your mate and learn of an adulterous affair, don't make any rash moves. If you truly want to end your marriage, learn all of your legal rights and options in an Arizona divorce. Then you will be in the best position to determine whether or not your children need to know the reason.

Source: Psychology Today, "Should the Children Know You've Had an Affair?," Scott Haltzman, accessed July 28, 2017

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