Effect of Parent’s Infidelity on Children

According to Infidelity Statistics 2017, in over 1/3 of marriages, one or both partners admit to having cheated on their spouse. When cheating, the impact that it has on one’s children is definitely not on their mind.

Parents usually believe that their children would never know about the cheating if they are not categorically told about it, and they can carry on with the image of a happy couple in front of their kids.

Children are More Aware Than You Might Imagine

However, the reality is that unless the children are infants or toddlers, they are astute enough to realize that something is wrong between their parents. Then, there are times when they might overhear arguments and conversations between their parents or with other people. Unlike boys, mature girls are more adept at suspecting their father’s sneaky behavior, including their “overfriendly” conversations on the phone, “inappropriate” emails, shutting down the computer’s screen or window when the child walks in and more.

At the same time, not all kids are the same and react differently to the disclosure. However, Kindred Media and Community mentions that infidelity, which is often followed by a divorce, is a legacy that can be passed on to generations. When children of parents involved in an unfaithful act grow up, they are more likely to cheat on their own partners, leading to much higher divorce rates among such people than average adults. This highlights the urgency of infidelity psychotherapy for both the children and the parents.

What Goes on With the Children

1. They Start Questioning the Rules
Since early childhood, kids are taught by their parents about what’s right and what’s not. But when they see their parents blurring the line between right and wrong, they refuse to follow the rules set by such parents. Their rebellious behavior can be seen in any or every aspect of life, and towards anyone they might come across.

2. They Lose Trust in Their Partner To Be
When a child sees one parent betray the other, the cheating parent not only loses his/her spouse’s trust, but they lose the trust of their children too. When the child grows up, he/she is more likely to experience insecurity and lack of trust in all or most of their relationships, especially in a loving relationship with the opposite sex. They can even get extremely jealous regarding their partner’s exes, Facebook friends and coworkers, imagining them being intimate.

3. They Live with Embarrassment
Even if the act of infidelity is not disclosed to the world, children of unfaithful parents experience deep shame because of an act that is “unacceptable” by society has been committed by one of the parents. They might stop speaking to people, especially about the topic, fearing how people will react.

4. They Breed Anger for Both Parents
Anger against the guilty parent, freezing him/her out of their life or lashing out at him/her is well understood. However, kids who experience parental cheating also foster anger toward the non-cheating parent, who they believe should have done something to prevent it, such as making greater efforts to please the cheating parent, appearing more attractive in their everyday life, etc.

Marriage and Family Therapist, Linda Charnes, who provides Infidelity psychotherapy in New York, suggests that both parents should talk about the situation with their children, if the kids are old enough. The non-cheating parent should let their kids speak out about what they are going through and consider therapy, if needed.

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