DearPeggy.com


Newsday Inc.
Including comments by Peggy Vaughan

Talking Honestly With Your Children

By Debbe Geiger
Frequent contributor to Newsday
1998

Although it sounds like reverse logic, the disclosure of infidelity in a marriage can have a positive impact on the children, if the disclosure is handled properly. According to Peggy Vaughan, an expert on adultery whose most recent book is The Monogamy Myth. "It's important to see this as an opportunity to open a line of communication with your children that is seldom there."

Based on experience, Vaughan found the degree of honesty she and her husband brought to explaining the situation to their children made it easier to discuss such issues as sex during the teenage years. "We didn't go through the alienation you see with teenagers. By developing this honesty, you're preparing them to be more responsible," she said.

Loretta P. Cioffi, a psychotherapist who practices in Massapequa, believes adultery can be educational for children in many ways. Children "watch their parents problem-solve and get through something. Many marriages do survive infidelity and are stronger." As a result, children develop strong problem-solving skills.

Children also can learn how to identify potential problems before they occur, Cioffi said. "Almost always, the kids I've had in treatment who have been products of marital discord usually walk away from the experience with the ability to foresee a problem."

Realizing that parents are human beings who make mistakes can make children stronger. "Sometimes that's a real healing device," Cioffi said. "For the first time you realize your mom or dad is a real human being and might have made mistakes in their life. That helps [children] as individuals realize they, too, might and can make mistakes. You can grow from that."

Children of unfaithful parents sometimes get to know themselves better--and learn the importance of taking responsibility for their actions, Cioffi added. That might help them make better judgments about all their relationships, not just romantic ones.

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