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Children may understand situation

While I’m away, readers give the advice.

On seeing children as the victims when their parents have affairs: Because of social stigma, social conditioning and financial dependence, my mother’s best option was to stick it out in a crazy marriage with my angry and childish and self-absorbed father, who is incapable of forming a relationship with any human being.

Since my early teens, it has been obvious to me how miserable my father had made my mother, and also himself. Both of them have spent the entirety of their youth without an emotional and physical connection with another human being. Even as a teen, out of empathy, I would hope that they would find someone to connect with, to share with, to love and to be loved by, if only in passing. More for my mother than my father, but I did wish he’d been less lonely and miserable and made the rest of us less miserable too.

My mother never had the option of finding comfort in another relationship, but I would definitely not have resented her for it just so I can maintain some fictional idea of living a perfect life. Kids are smart and resilient and they can handle a reality check that things are more complicated than a Hollywood yarn.

I think it’s too much of a sacrifice to wait until you’re 50 to live your life. Children deal with the disruption of their parents divorcing or with the stress of living with parents who hate each other, and they can also deal with the concept that infidelity is not always a black-and-white breach of contract. – A.

Email Carolyn at, follow her on Facebook at carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 9 a.m.each Friday at www.washington