I met with a new client today who asked a common question – “Rhiannon, should I tell the children that my wife is in a new relationship and that’s why we are separating? I don’t want to lie to them or risk my relationship with them in the future if they find out I knew and didn’t tell them.”
My advice is always – No.
The children don’t need to know (at the moment at least). Children should be given information about the divorce on a “need to know” basis.
Any decisions the parents make during the divorce, including what they tell the children, needs to be done in a child focused way and always with their best interests in mind.
For many of my clients, their need to tell the children is actually a personal one, for their sake rather than to benefit the children. I don’t agree with this.
Mum and Dad are the most important people in the children’s lives and it is unfair to encourage them to think and feel badly towards one of their parents. They will find this extremely upsetting – whatever their age.
Chances are the truth will come out quite naturally at some point anyway.
I don’t advocate lying to the children if they ask a direct question but that’s different to telling them new and difficult information they weren’t expecting and don’t need to know at this time (or sometimes ever).
If the children quiz the cheated on parent in the future as to why they did not tell them them sooner, I recommend explaining that they made the best decision they could as their parent, to protect them at the time.
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