Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; And then the Lord‘s wrath be kindled against you…. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. – Deuteronomy 11:16-17a, 19, KJV
Are you living these words that God gave the nation of Israel?
Teaching your kids His heart on the matter of adultery?
How would you feel if you were a kid learning decades later for the first time that your parents divorced over dad’s serial cheating but mom decided to keep silent with you? Personally, I’d imagine that I would feel doubly betrayed.
My suggestion is not to be that parent. Tell the truth appropriately for their age. This is not about running down the reputation of other parent but being honest with the kids respecting them enough not to lie. It also helps them to grieve knowing the truth.
By letting them know that unrepentant adultery/infidelity is unacceptable in marriage, you are modeling godliness to them (see Jer. 3:8). And you are teaching them that actions have consequences.
They also can learn from your example not to tolerate infidelity in their future relationships. I think that is a lesson worth having–i.e. a redemptive lesson even from the mess of evil that adultery is.
A classic mistake parents make with children when it comes to grief is to “shield” them from it. They do not let them go to the funeral of a beloved grandparent. And they do not cry in front of the kids.
This is not healthy.
Kids need to grieve the loss, too. They need to feel free to be sad and mad as well.
I say this as a professional chaplain who works with grief on nearly a daily basis.
Applying this to adultery and divorce situations, I encourage age-appropriate revelations to kids. Tell them the truth of what happened–i.e. give the actions without editorializing with name-calling. Be willing to be angry and sad in front of them labeling those feelings accordingly.
Don’t shutter your grief away as if it is something to be ashamed of.
To do so is teaching them to do the same.
That said, you do not want to make your child your emotional-caregiver or direct your anger at them. That is unhealthy. But you can err on the other extreme and hide/lie about how you really feel or what really happened. That is not healthy either.
If asked, be honest.