What to Share, When to Share, and How Much to Share With Kids
A question that comes up a lot in our women’s groups dealing with sexual addiction is, “Should I be talking to my kids about this?” And experts are divided on this question.
Some sexual addiction counselors say you don’t need to involve the kids or disclose anything about infidelity. Others have the opinion that because it does impact the kids, they’re entitled to know at least some of what’s going on.
Which just goes to show – every situation is incredibly nuanced.
We want to give you some points to consider about sharing with your kids, but since every situation is different, there’s no universal checklist (we know – it sucks). And because we can’t speak to every possible situation in one conversation, we’re talking in broad, general terms. We highly recommend working with a therapist or coach to navigate your particular situation.
Step 1: Ask yourself why you want to share with your kids
Is it out of obligation? Is there a should-storm happening in your mind? Do you want your kids to see their dad differently, or do you want to protect them from seeing him differently? If your kids are coming to you directly with questions, how do you want to handle those? Put all your whys out on the table and hold space for them without judgment.
Regardless of the route you take: don’t lie to your kids.
Sexual addiction stories come in different layers, but the long-term damage of telling your kids something untrue like “Dad’s just going on a business trip” is not worth the short-term avoidance of a difficult conversation.
Step 2: Give yourself permission to take space and time to respond
Finding ways to share or omit information in a way that’s honest and true is essential. After all, that’s what we want in all of our relationships. We want honesty and transparency – we don’t need all the little details, but we need to know what’s going on to the level that’s healthy for us so we can feel safe and secure. Your kids deserve the same – but it doesn’t have to be on the spot.
If your kids are asking questions, you don’t have to feel pressured to answer right then and there. In fact, we love the idea of utilizing a therapist to help you navigate how you want to proceed.
Try saying: “That’s a valid question. It makes sense why you’re bringing that up right now. I bet you’re sensing a lot of stuff happening, and you’re right. Stuff’s happening. I’m not quite sure what’s appropriate to tell you and how I want to share. Can I get back to you?”
Step 3: Consider whether sharing is harmful
If or when you do decide to share with your kids, will it be harmful to them? Think about age-appropriateness. How you’ll talk to a five-year-old is different from a 10-year-old, different from a 16-year-old, and different from your adult children. Consider, also, each kid’s personality and emotional needs, and how you know this information will impact them as individuals.
We’re talking about some hard things. And if you haven’t yet talked to your kids, but you’ve been feeling the need to address what’s happening in your family, we know this is uncomfortable.
Remember: you’re absolutely enough and you’re doing a great job.
- Ways to share, with clarity, in a way that minimizes harm to your kids
- Conversation tips whether you’re staying married or pursuing divorce
- How to go about supporting your kids while letting them navigate their own unique emotional journey
- Why waiting for the situation to feel more positive delays healing
Meet the Faces Behind the Voices
Choose To Be is focused on women healing from infidelity, betrayal trauma, or from the sexual acting out of their spouse. We are committed to helping women heal. Come be part of the conversation as we interview experts, others who have gone through this journey, as well as gain tools to help you move forward.