Dear Savvy Auntie,

My sister found out a few days ago that her husband was having a long distance affair. She decided that it would be best if they go there separate ways. My sister and nieces have now moved back in with my parents and me. The girls are 10, 6, 3 years old. I really need advice on how to handle this. My nieces are great kids and I would hate to see this destroying their future. How can I help my nieces get through this rough time?

Their Dad Had an Affair

Dear Their Dad Had an Affair,

Marital issues and separation are difficult, angering, and sad for the kids as well as the couple and their families. Although we all wish they didn’t have to deal with it, do keep in mind it is ultimately a positive life lesson for them when they become adults.
Try very hard not to bad-mouth their father. He has been, is, and will be their dad no matter how he behaves as a husband.
Since your nieces range in age from 3 years to 10 years they will need and want different “auntie-ing”. The youngest may seek more cuddles and loving and not ask many questions while the oldest may have many questions that require honest, short to the point answers. The 6-year-old may take her cues from her older sister, but the replies to her queries should be shorter. Stay alert to what they are really asking and not what you think they should be interested about. Most importantly, emphasize that this is a grown-up problem that is hard for kids to understand right now and they will when they become adults. Also, that in no way are they to blame at all! Especially the 3 year old, still in an egocentric level of development my have ideas that she brought this on by...not using the potty, not finishing her dinner, touching something she shouldn’t have, on and on.
Take a look at the book..”The Boys and Girls Book on Divorce." After you (and your sister) read it you can read parts that fit for each of the girls and leave it on a table where they can look at it themselves.
I wish you and your whole family the best of luck,
Natalie Robinson Garfield

Photo: Milkos

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