Home About Dr Gayle Counseling Services Speaking Services Online Seminars Articles Press Room Books Contact
Ask Dr. Gayle

Topic: What should we tell our kids about "other" woman's pregnancy?

QUESTION: Five months ago, out-of-the-blue, my husband left me for another woman. He is back now saying how much he missed me and our three small children and I believe he is sincere. But the whole situation is complicated by the fact that the "other woman" says she is pregnant by my husband. How can we handle this, and what should we tell our kids, who are ages 2, 5 and 12?

ANSWER: There are more questions here to answer before considering what to tell your children. Your marriage has been stressed. And now you find out there may be serious, long lasting repercussions to your husband's affair!

Consider consulting a marriage counselor to work through the pain and confusion that this situation no doubt brings up for both of you. Your children will benefit from your careful consideration of what this pregnancy means to your family. Seek to understand the meaning of your husband's erratic behavior and recognize the impact of his impulsive decision-making on the family. What will stop him from reversing his decision, once more, now that the stakes are higher with children conceivably on both sides of this equation? The question of your husband's fidelity is by no means resolved.

Clearly, precipitous and impulsive decisions have made your marriage vulnerable to huge consequences. And if your husband does in fact become the father of another woman's child, your marriage may again be threatened. Do not jump to quick answers. Take this highly charged emotional content to a marriage counselor, and protect your children from the emotional tumult and confusion you must be reeling from, right now. Instead, take your time to explore feelings and facts before saying anything to your own children.

During this exploration of your marriage, you will also need to confirm the facts. If indeed your husband did get another woman pregnant, what is her plan? Will she continue the pregnancy? If so, what kind of verification will your husband need to know the child is his? This is a momentous development in your family. Be sure to delve deeply into what is going on in your marriage. And gather facts to determine what role another woman's child will play. There are no simple or easy answers here. You are on the right track in approaching the issue together. Indeed, you will need to handle this problem together as a team, for your marriage to survive.

It is too soon to tell your children anything at all, until the two of you become clear about the reality of the situation and what it will mean to your family. Seek professional consultation to create a plan together and to address the problems in your marriage that led to your husband's affair in the first place.

Your husband's sincerity is not the issue here. His commitment and ability to talk about feelings, instead of acting them out is what has led to this complication. Clearly, he is willing to take action, before weighing the consequences of his actions on those who love and depend on him. Find out what "out of the blue" really means before concluding that your marriage is back on track!

Return to Previous Page

Gayle Peterson, MSSW, LCSW, PhD is a family therapist specializing in prenatal and family development. She trains professionals in her prenatal counseling model and is the author of An Easier Childbirth, Birthing Normally and her latest book, Making Healthy Families. Her articles on family relationships appear in professional journals and she is an oft-quoted expert in popular magazines such as Woman's Day, Mothering and Parenting. . She also serves on the advisory board for Fit Pregnancy Magazine.

Dr. Gayle Peterson has written family columns for ParentsPlace.com, igrandparents.com, the Bay Area's Parents Press newspaper and the Sierra Foothill's Family Post. She has also hosted a live radio show, "Ask Dr. Gayle" on www.ivillage.com, answering questions on family relationships and parenting. Dr. Peterson has appeared on numerous radio and television interviews including Canadian broadcast as a family and communications expert in the twelve part documentary "Baby's Best Chance". She is former clinical director of the Holistic Health Program at John F. Kennedy University in Northern California and adjunct faculty at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. A national public speaker on women's issues and family development, Gayle Peterson practices psychotherapy in Oakland, California and Nevada City, California. She also offers an online certification training program in Prenatal Counseling and Birth Hypnosis. Gayle and is a wife, mother of two adult children and a proud grandmother of three lively boys and one sparkling granddaughter.

Return to Dr. Gayle Peterson's Home Page

Copyright 1996-2003.  Gayle Peterson All rights reserved.

Send Comments and Inquiries to Dr. Gayle Peterson at gp@askdrgayle.com