SmackDown: Can A Cheating Spouse Still Be A Good Parent?
Filed under: Opinions
Cheaters Are Not Necessarily Bad Parents.
by Jo Parente
There are alcoholics who are brilliant singers. There are drug addicts who are amazing actors. There are certifiable lunatics who are masterful artists. And there are gazillions of married folks who cheat on their spouses and still come home and function as good parents.
One thing has nothing to do with the other.
That's not to say that every cheating spouse can keep his infidelity separate from his home life, but the parents that I know who've cheated are really good at compartmentalizing their lives and not neglecting their children.
I was one of them.
A few years ago, my marriage was in the toilet and I knew it was just a matter of time until the dissolution was formalized. In the midst of my despair, I did what many miserable spouses do: I called a former flame. Suffice it to say that the relationship rekindled quickly.
And here is the strangest part. I became a better parent for it. I was happier, so naturally that lift permeated other parts of my life.
But like most rebound relationships, that one eventually hit the pavement, yet I was grateful for the perspective it gave me. Number one: I discovered I was still lovable (which I'd stopped believing). Number two: I realized I was doing the right thing by ending my very, very bad marriage. (When your family sees the charming side of your husband and not the ugly parts, it's hard to convince them that you're not living happily ever after.)
Now about that Tiger Woods guy. None of us have a clue as to the effect that Tiger's multiple straying has had, or not had, on his kids. He's a cheater, granted, but I, for one, have to hand it to him and his wife Elin for keeping the nitty gritty details completely apart from the public. No doubt a book will come out one day, but for now, it's none of our business.
So we're left to wonder, is it possible that Tiger is a great dad? Of course it is.
When things unraveled for Tiger last Thanksgiving, Baby Charlie was all of 9 months and daughter Sam going on 2 1/2 years old. I highly doubt that Tiger was bringing up the discussion of a "new mommy" at the dinner table with his kids.
The guy has a job that keeps him on the road, and according to news reports, that's where a lot of the cheating happened. But even if the hook-ups took place in the house, it stands to reason that the professional swinger (pun intended) was keeping it all secret and going about his home life normally, loving and caring for his children in the way that every good parent does.
Think about it. Cheating isn't cheating unless it's a secret. There are plenty of things we keep hidden from our children that are perfectly legitimate, but are for adults only. Parents aren't readily sharing the humiliating details of the day they got axed from their job, or how they had to sell a treasured heirloom to put food on the table, or how they got blotto at a neighborhood New Year's Eve party and engaged in dirty dancing with the coat rack, or anything about the porno stash in the footlocker under the bed.
When you cheat, it's the most secret, secret going. If anything, philandering parents will overcompensate to make sure that their kids know they are loved.
Castigate the sin, but the sinner has plenty of good qualities that remain. Chances are, his parenting is the one bright spot left in his marital home.
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.