Q: I have been married for 16 years, seperated for 1 year, and a divorce will be final within a month. I still have a very close friendship with my wife, only because she is a strong and forgiving person. We have 4 children, ages 14, 12, 8, & 5. The reason for the divorce is because I had a 3 1/2 year affair with another women. That affair is over, and me and the other woman are just friends(she is still married to her husband), and have been for 5 years now. Me and this other woman had a child. The child is 18 months old. My ex-girlfriend and I have agreed on joint custody of our son(she is the custodial parent). My soon to be ex-wife and I have also agreed on joint custody(she will be the custodial parent).
My question is…When should I tell my four children that they have a half-brother? Is there a certain age that is best to tell them? My 2 oldest children have known about the affair for 6 months now and have come to terms with it, with none or very little phychological problems or acting out. The two youngest only know that mom and dad are not getting along because dad did something wrong. Is it too soon to tell them about their half-brother? Is waiting 5-10 years from now better or worse?
A: My vote is to tell them now. My guess is that there are other people in your life who know about the baby. Secrets like this have a way of coming out, even when everyone tries their best to respect privacy. (People often underestimate what children hear and understand.) It’s far better that the children hear the truth from you than to learn it by picking up comments made by others. They need to know they can trust you to be honest with them. They also need to see that adults face their mistakes and do what they can to make amends.
I wish you well.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 14 Oct 2006
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2006). When do I tell my children they have a half-brother?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 8, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2006/10/14/when-do-i-tell-my-children-they-have-a-half-brother/