Don’t tell kids mom’s a cheater

Dear Annie: My wife’s daughter, “Susan,” recently took her two young children and moved out of the home she shared with our wonderful son-in-law. She has been having an affair with a charming friend of theirs.

The kids have been told that Mommy and Daddy are fighting and taking a break from each other. Susan has been advised by a counselor not to introduce Mr. Charm to the kids for at least a year.

Do you agree with the advice they are getting to keep the truth from the kids? We have been told that they are too young to process the intricacies of adult relationships, and that knowing the truth will cause them to take sides. On the other hand, not telling them makes the rest of us conspirators in maintaining a deception that will one day come to light.

How should we respond to Susan’s desire that we eventually integrate Mr. Charm into the family? Susan insists her counselor says we should distance ourselves from our son-in-law, which, frankly, we have no intention of doing. Since any family member who reads this will know exactly who is writing, I’ll sign it – Transparent in Portsmouth

Dear Transparent: As much as you would like to punish Susan for her affair, please don’t do it by telling the children Mommy has been cheating. It is not a lie to say their parents are fighting and taking a break. If she stays with Mr. Charm, you will have to allow him into the family if you wish to see Susan and the grandchildren. You do not have to alienate your son-in-law entirely, but for the near future, you should not invite him to family functions where Susan will be present. She may be behaving terribly, but she is still your wife’s daughter.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column.


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