Infidelity greatly impacts the family in a negative way. Not only does the betrayed parent feel crushed emotionally, but the child in the family unit is also emotionally damaged from it. Infidelity in a marriage can negatively impact a child and the effects can stay with him throughout his life. When people think about the effects of infidelity they often look at the person who was betrayed and the changes that they go through. This is an important side to look at when calculating the damage that will occur in someone’s life because of infidelity.
But in order to get a better understanding of the far reaching effect that infidelity has on the family then step back and take a look at how it touches the child in the family. “[T]he following are core responses experienced by sons and daughters of every age-from young children to adults-once they find out that one or both of their parents has been sexually unfaithful. Loss of trust…. , Shame…. , Confusion…. , Anger and ambivalence toward the betraying parent…. , Resentment toward the betrayed parent…. , Acting out…. “(Nogales).
Every child is different and may not experience all of these responses when confronted with the revelation of a cheating parent. Every child will, however, be effected. ” But even if it is in the deepest subconscious level, the effect of parents on children is always profound. “(Walsh) It doesn’t matter if the child is five or fifteen, she is going to be hurt and confused when she learns that mom or dad has betrayed the family. She will feel that her parent has betrayed not only the other parent but, her as well. Anger towards the cheating parent is also common. Regardless of what is actually occurring behind the scenes, kids will commiserate with the parent who is the victim. This can actually lead to bitter feelings and resentment toward the parent who is being unfaithful. “(Taylor) This child also becomes confused about love and marriage. ” Most children are taught that when you love someone enough to marry them, it means you vow to be faithful to that person. When marriage includes infidelity, what conclusions do children draw? That marriage is a sham? That married love is an illusion?…
The effect on the children in such relationships was profound confusion of both love and marriage. “(Nogales) A child is being taught by her parents every day. She is told not to lie, she is shown that she is loved and so on. These lessons being absorbed by the child can be verbal or non-verbal. The majority of the learning that takes place in the home is non-verbal. lessons are taught about relationships, right and wrong, family dynamics, and acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. Children pick up on everything that is going on in the home and they learn by observing. When a parent has an affair what lessons are being taught to the children? What rules of life are being learned? “(Chalmers) These are some good questions to ask. Not only can the child feel anger towards the cheating parent, she can have resentment for the other parent. There are many different reasons that this child can feel this way towards the victimized parent. The parent may be so overwhelmed with their own feelings that they are not being as attentive to their child as they should be. Things stray from the norm and the child loses their sense of security.
Another reason that the child could harbor resentment is that they feel that the parent could have prevented the other parent from straying. This child blames both parents for the affair. ” A common accusation is that the cheated-on parent was ‘too weak’ and thus let the cheating parent get away with it. “(Nogales) A child may not verbalize their anger, hurts or resentment but it may appear in the form of behavior. His grades may decline in school. He may be withdrawn and self- secluded in order to prevent further pain and disappointment from others.
As a teen he may be sexually promiscuous. And as an adult he may be incapable of becoming emotionally intimate. ” He may unconsciously try to justify the transgressor parent’s behavior or to search for responses to his innermost conflicts concerning whether or not love, loyalty, and commitment are possible. “(Nogales) “Children may see their parents’ relationship as the “ideal” to which they compare all others. How a parent contributes and participates in that relationship can significantly impact how children will do the same in their own adult relationships. “(Koski).
So often is the case that the once disapproving child follows in their parents footsteps of cheating. “The son of the cheating father often grows up swearing not to be like dad as he gradually becomes more and more like him. “(Hammack). He might do it out of fear of commitment or because he no longer believes in monogamous relationships. Either way whether he realizes it or not, the infidelity of his parent has made a difference in his adult life. Another idea is that the adult child of the cheating parent becomes suspicious and untrusting of those close to her.
She may not be able to trust her spouse and may even go so far as to push him away with her untrusting ways. “… they may become overly suspicious and drive away a partner whom they unfairly believe is unfaithful. “(Nogales). She has been led to believe that she cannot trust that her partner can be truthful. Her relationship is being dictated by her past and what she learned from her parents. There are other countless ways that infidelity in a marriage can hurt and ultimately effect the child of that marriage for years to come. More thought should be given to the emotional and mental state of the child instead of ones own selfish desires. Parents have a responsibility to teach their children the importance of honesty and the importance of thoughtfulness-considering other people’s feelings when decisions are being made. To do otherwise is not only terribly irresponsible, but may tend to perpetuate the learning of these rules of deceit and thoughtlessness for generations to come. “(Chalmers).
Works Cited Chalmers, Jennifer. Infidelity: The Lessons Children Learn. …. web. 26 November 2010. marriagebuilders. com Hammock, Aubrey. How Infidelity Affects the Child. web. 18 March 2005 authorsden. om 26 November 2010 Koski, Michelle. Adult Children of Parental Infidelity and Their Perspectives of Love, Intimate Relationships, and Marriage. Research Paper 2001 Nogales, Ana and Bellotti, Laura. Parents Who Cheat: How Children and Adults Are Affected When Their Parents Are Unfaithful. Deerfield Beach, Health Communications Inc. 2009 Taylor, Danielle. Infidelity and Children-Does Cheating Really Harm Children? web. 10 July 2008 ezinearticles. com 26 November 2010. Walsh, James. Marital Infidelity and the Children Effected. web. unarchivedarticles. com 26 November 2010