Infidelity: How Can Children Heal?

Date: 07/06/2023

Title: How do I get my kids to accept their dad?

00:00:00 Speaker 1
It. So infidelity broke apart your family a couple years, but now you are ready to invite your
husband back into your family's life. But your kids, they're not ready. So what do you do? Well,
let's talk about that today on tips on teens. My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage
and family therapist, and I specialize in helping kids, teens, and families live half your
lives. I lead two organizations teen Therapy Center and the nonprofit 501 c three organization,
child and Teen Counseling, both here in Woodland Hills, California. And every Wednesday at
noon, I jump onto Facebook Live to answer your parenting questions. Let's jump into today's.
Two years ago, my husband and I separated because of infidelity. We've done a lot of work since
then, and I'm ready for him to come back. We've done some therapy, but our three kids 11, 13, 16
are still really angry with him for the pain he caused, and they don't want me to take him back.
They think I'm being a doormat. How do I help them accept

00:01:07 Speaker 1
him again and heal? Thank you for your question. Sounds like your family's been on a big roller
coaster ride of some big emotions, understandably. So I'm going to make some assumptions on
this. So the assumptions I'm going to make are that since you're willing to take him back, you
and your husband have been doing a lot of work together to go through the grief all the way through
to get to the acceptance and forgiveness. In other words, he has shown remorse and empathy for
you and the children of how his actions have affected everyone. He's taken ownership of his
actions. He and you have worked together to understand the antecedents of what led up to the
infidelity, and he has made positive changes in his life. You as a couple are making positive
changes as a couple. And so that has helped you be able to forgive and accept and reunify with
him. So I'm going to make that assumption. Otherwise, your kids may be right and you might be
a doormat again. We've all been there, and I'm not trying

00:02:09 Speaker 1
to judge that, but it's really important that if you're going to bring him back into your life,
that it's something that you guys doing thoughtfully and purposefully and you guys have done
the work to make sure you heal and everyone feels like, okay, we're moving forward together.
Now, you've been doing this work with therapy. I wonder if your kids have had the same opportunity.
Are they still dealing with the grief without going through the other side? Are they still dealing
with the shame, the embarrassment, the feeling of betrayal, the anger, the feeling that they
need to protect you because they saw what you went through all those two years ago, and they're
not willing to let you do that again? So has their dad been able to share the same empathy and remorse
and ownership that he's shown with you to his kids. Now, that's going to take time. It's not like
he talks them once and it's all better, just like it probably wasn't with you. It's taken two
years to get to this point. It may take

00:03:04 Speaker 1
several months or who knows, maybe two years for your kids to get that point, too. But I think
it's important is that you are transparent at an age appropriate level. And again, what you
tell your eleven year old may be different than you tell your 16 year old, but they already know
about the infidelity. But there may be some talks about why you are forgiving their father,
why you are trusting their father and allowing them to process in their own therapy, whether
they're in a group or each individual, what they're going through. And eventually letting
dad come in and start planting the seed of that empathy and that remorse and that ownership,
so they can see that dad is walking the walk. And hopefully with that, over time, they will start
accepting him back in. Now, I don't know if that means that it's having dad come back and live
with you guys again. Maybe it's that he lives separately and he visits and he hangs out with you
guys. He's not living there. And you slowly rebuild that relationship

00:04:02 Speaker 1
because if you push it too hard and too fast, they're going to reject not only him, they're going
to reject you because they're going to feel betrayed by you, that you're letting him back in
their life when they're not ready. And so it's really important that you involve therapists.
I think it's something like this. I think it's really important and allow that opportunity
for dad to share again his remorse, his empathy, his ownership. Because if they can see him walking
the walk, maybe like you, they can offer that forgiveness and you guys can reunify as a family.
It's a big topic. It's a big question. There's no easy way to go through this, and my heart goes
out to you and your family. And I wish you guys all the best. If you have more questions about this,
you can always give us a call here at Teen Therapy Center. Again. My name is Kent Toussaint. If you'd
like your question answered on tips on teens, you can email us at
or direct messages right on Facebook

00:05:00 Speaker 1
or Instagram. We love your questions. Keep them coming. I will see you next Wednesday at noon
on Facebook Live. Again. Kent Toussaint with Teen Therapy center and child indeed counseling.
And I'll see you guys next week. Bye.

The Impact of Infidelity on Kids

If you’ve had infidelity in your marriage it can be as hard for your kids as it is for you. Children may feel a range of emotions from shame, embarrassment, betrayal and anger when one parent has been unfaithful. Kids may also feel a strong need to protect the parent who got hurt.

The key to reconciling is to not go too fast. If you push your kids too hard to accept your cheating spouse back they’ll be likely to reject both him/her and you. You need to do any reconciliation between you and your spouse thoughtfully and purposefully. If the spouse who messed up can take ownership for the infidelity and express remorse and empathy for the pain they caused, then it’s possible the kids can accept him/her back. 

It’s a tricky line to walk, and we talk about it in this Tips on Teens:

“Two years ago my husband and I separated because of infidelity. We’ve done a lot of work since then, and I’m ready for him to come back. We’ve done some therapy, but our three kids (11, 13, 16) are still really angry with him for the pain he caused, and they don’t want me to take him back. They think I’m being a doormat. How do I help them accept him again and heal?”

Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: We love to hear from you!

Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE!  Check out our page here –

If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.