The Washington Post

Ask Amy: When parents split, what to tell the kids?

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 to you 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. He does this all the time, even when our sons are with us.

I don’t want them to grow up to be disrespectful to their girlfriends or wives because that has been their role model. How should I handle this? -- Fed Up in California

DEAR FED UP: You are the only role model you should worry about right now, and you should approach this with all of 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.”

DEAR AMY: Recently I lost my cat to Feline Infectious Peritonitis. It was devastating.

When I offered my brother and sister-in-law some of my cat’s things the night he was euthanized, they seemed concerned that the disease that killed him was contagious.

I assured them I had done my research and it was not. A few days later they informed me that the night my cat was euthanized they called the veterinarian and asked questions.

I am offended that they called the veterinarian. I believe it to be selfish and insensitive. I was upset that they showed more concern about themselves and their lives than about this loss.

I do understand the concern for their pets, but think they should have taken another route to get the information, or at least wait a few days and ask my permission to call the veterinarian. Am I being oversensitive? -- Grieving Mom

DEAR GRIEVING: You are being oversensitive. As an animal lover, I understand your sadness and grief, but what your brother and sister-in-law did was the most responsible thing to do. The reason they called the vet the same day your cat was euthanized was because that was when you were offering your cat’s things.

The mistake they made was to tell you about it. Your vet may be able to recommend a grief group of bereaved pet owners; I think it would be very helpful for you.

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 only considered half-siblings 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? -- Wondering

DEAR WONDERING: 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.”

Write to Amy Dickinson at or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services



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