[**This is a repost from an old, defunct blog of mine.]
EFFECTS OF MARITAL INFIDELITY ON CHILDREN
I decided to do a post on this topic because it’s been something that has been weighing heavily on my heart for over a decade now.
But why this? How is this even related to me?
Well, truth is, I’ve been through it firsthand and I know exactly what it feels like from a child’s perspective.
I haven’t told anyone other than a few close friends. But what they often see is a girl who appears untroubled, no more bothered by what has happened in the past and now filled with the joy of the present and the future.
It’s a facade.
I don’t think I will ever get over what my dad did to me, to my mum, to our family. They reason it to be the advertising industry he was working in, the fact that they weren’t Christians then, and that they didn’t know how to truly treasure the marriage.
Every single one of those excuses, no doubt make sense, are still excuses nonetheless.
I found this site that gives an accurate detail of marital infidelity and its effects on children. (Note: The effects may not necessarily be similar across all individuals, but as far as I’m concern, they’re pretty much applicable to me)
- Loss of trust
When children of any age learn of a parent’s infidelity, they usually find it extremely difficult to if not impossible to trust that someone they love will not lie to them, reject, or abandon them. They very often learn not to put their faith in love, and they may also lean that they’re not worth receiving monogamous love.
A child may feel as if the betraying parent’s sexual transgression is a black mark against himself and the rest of the immediate family. And if the child has been pressured by the cheating parent to “keep the secret” of infidelity from the betrayed parent, the child is left with the added and unwarranted burden of guilt.
When marriage includes infidelity, children often draw the conclusion that marriage is a sham and love an illusion. And when parents stay married even when one or both parent(s) continues having affairs, the effect on children is profound confusion about the meaning of both love and marriage.
- Anger & ambivalence toward betraying parent
When infidelity partially defines a parent’s character, the child often feels torn between feelings of anger and yearning. Some even express this emotional conflict in terms of there being two mothers or two fathers—the one who used to be their parent (and was deserving of their love) and the one who was revealed when the infidelity was brought to light (and whom they now “hate”).
- Resentment toward betrayed parent
Some children resent the betrayed parent for requiring them to be their emotional caretaker, for under-parenting due to preoccupation with the infidelity drama, or for having been unable to prevent the infidelity in the first place.
– Acting out
Rather than confronting sad, angry, or confusing feelings directly, children may exhibit behavioral problems during childhood and intimacy avoidance during adult years. Issues of promiscuity may arise in an attempt to play out what a child perceived from his parents about the impermanence of love.
There are, of course, several other ways in which I have been affected. This includes the never-ending emotional pain that haunts me every single time I watch a movie that brings up topics on cheating, family troubles, couples fighting, etc.
So, for those who have gone through a similar situation or are going through one right this very moment, know that you’re not alone. If you need someone to talk to, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Ask Vanessa”, or simply talk to me below :)
XOXO, I care.