Ask Amy: Should she tell kids truth about divorce?

  • Article by: AMY DICKINSON
  • April 4, 2013 - 6:29 PM

Dear Amy: I discovered that my husband of more than 20 years is carrying on an “emotional affair” with another woman. As far as I know, the affair is not physical. He has begun meeting female “friends” for after-dinner drinks and posts pictures of himself with the young, attractive women he works with on his Facebook page.

He constantly discusses what these 20-something women are doing and saying with our teenage sons. I’m finally at the point where I can’t take it, and I’m seeing a divorce lawyer.

My question is: When my sons ask why we are getting a divorce, do I tell them that their father is a liar? And that he has disrespected their mother by carrying on with other women while married?

Or do I let their father explain? I am so angry that I want to explain to them that real men don’t cheat on their wives or lie to them. And real men don’t flirt with other women and make comments about how attractive other women are in front of their wives.

I don’t want my sons to grow up to be disrespectful to their girlfriends or wives because that has been their role model. How should I handle this?

Amy says: You are the only role model you should worry about right now, and you should approach this with all the dignity you can muster.

Do not trash your ex, even if he deserves it. Do not call him a liar, even if he is. Your sons have been watching their father operate; you can assume that they love and feel protective of you, even if they don’t necessarily put words to it. If their father tells them something untrue, you can correct the record. If they ask you questions, answer them simply and truthfully.

When you are wondering whether to say something negative about someone (even if it is true), the best rule to follow is, “I’ll think about doing this tomorrow.”

Discord over half-siblings

Dear Amy: My friend and I have an ongoing discussion about half-siblings. I say, “If siblings share one parent, they are ‘half’ regardless of whether they have different fathers or mothers.”

My friend says that siblings are considered half-siblings only when the father is different, but that if the children have the same mother they are whole, regardless of who the father is. There is a dinner on this. What’s the answer?

Amy says: You are correct. I don’t favor referring to human beings as “half” or “whole” anything — but strictly speaking, two siblings who biologically share one parent (either father or mother) are considered “half-siblings.”

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at

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