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Soon-to-Be Ex Taking Kids to Visit Girlfriend
Q: I am in the process of a divorce. My husband's living with the woman he had an affair with. He participated very little in the raising of our two children. I think he wants to impress the other woman by bringing our kids to hang out with her and her children. I don't feel either one of them is capable of making good decisions where my children are concerned. He's even gone so far as to sneak my kids down to meet his girlfriend and told them to lie to me about it. He says I'm influencing the way my kids feel, but I don't say anything negative to them about my husband and his girlfriend. What should I do to protect my kids?
A: I sympathize with your suffering from your husband's adultery and betrayal, the breakup of your family, and now his inappropriate behavior with your kids. Given your husband's affair with this woman, his leaving you and his family for her, and the fact that you are not even divorced, I do not believe that your children's best interests are being served by "hanging out" with their dad at his lover's place. Continuing to see him alone is fine, as long as he does not try to turn them against you or misrepresent why he is leaving the family for his lover. Your kids should not be burdened by one parent's attempt to influence them against the other parent. Telling them to lie about his sneaking them off to be with him and his lover is unconscionable and very destructive to your kids.
Although I would bet that he would not agree to see a family therapist with you, I would ask him to do so for the sake of the children. If he won't go with you, see one on your own because you need professional support and guidance during this very difficult time. I hate to bring legal recourse into your situation, but if your husband refuses to act in the best interests of his children, I would recommend getting a lawyer to prevent him from acting further in this inappropriate manner with your kids. I would hope that any judge in a family court would agree that your husband's behavior is not in the best interests of your children. I hope this measure isn't required, but your kids need you to advocate for them, since your husband appears to be interested only in his own needs and ego.
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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.