### When Should Parents Discuss Grandma’s Affair with Their Children? – Carolyn Hax’s Advice

Dear Carolyn: My mother-in-law is engaged in an extramarital affair. Despite being married to my father-in-law, she regularly spends week-long intervals with her current boyfriend. My children, aged 3 years and 5 months, frequently interact with her. In her absence, they inquire about her whereabouts. We typically explain that Nana is out of town. I am hesitant to fabricate stories to cover for her, having experienced the repercussions of deceit in my own upbringing. However, I am also cautious about divulging inappropriate details to my young children. Balancing the desire for them to maintain a close relationship with their grandparents, especially my husband’s parents, I am uncertain about when and how to broach this delicate subject.

— Nana’s Out of Town

Nana’s Out of Town: In the words of a well-known cartoon character: “How about never — is never good for you?”

The dynamics of what appears to be an open marriage between your in-laws are their prerogative and not necessarily a matter for external judgment. Grandparents, like everyone else, have their autonomy. The specifics of their relationship are their concern and that of those involved.

That addresses your immediate query. However, your question raises broader considerations.

Either your 5-month-old is remarkably advanced, already inquiring about Nana’s whereabouts, or your concerns about the children’s perceptions may be premature. It’s possible that you are projecting your discomfort onto the children, framing it as a matter of protecting their innocence.

It is crucial to teach children about boundaries and privacy. While it is acceptable to provide simple explanations for Nana’s absence, there is no obligation to delve into elaborate details. As the children mature, emphasize the importance of respecting others’ privacy and not prying into matters that do not concern them.

Preparing for future discussions on privacy, honesty, and healthy relationships is valuable for navigating potential challenges as your children grow older. By modeling honesty, respect, and appropriate boundaries, you lay the foundation for their understanding of trust and communication in relationships.

Dear Carolyn: Having left an abusive marriage two years ago, I am content being single and reluctant to pursue dating. However, my children have started expressing concern about my solitude. Should I push myself to reenter the dating scene or embrace the tranquility of solitude?

— Anonymous

Anonymous: Absolutely not. After enduring an abusive relationship, the last thing you need is to force yourself into another situation that is not of your choosing. Loneliness, though understandable, is not an ideal alternative.

Consider cultivating a network of friendships or shared interests instead of seeking romantic entanglements. Focus on building connections that bring fulfillment and meaning without the pressure of dating until you are unequivocally ready. Take the time to establish healthy relationships, paying attention to your emotions and well-being in the process.

Rebuilding trust in yourself post-abuse involves recognizing and nurturing healthy attachments, setting boundaries, and being able to walk away from toxic relationships. Seek solace in the peace of solitude and the companionship of trustworthy friends when you are prepared to do so.