How infidelity affects your kids

Obviously, infidelity has an adverse effect on kids, so learn if you should even let them know about it.

Kids-How-infidelity-affects-your-kids-MAIN
It’s a fact — divorces are on the rise in Singapore. The latest government figures in 2016 showed that 7,614 couples called it quits on their marriages, up from 7,522 divorces in the previous year.

As to why marriages fail, Larry Lai, a principal psychotherapist and counsellor with Focus on the Family notes that 1.6 per cent of divorce cases in 2016 were a result of adultery. However, this was the reason for 21 per cent of divorces under Muslim law in the same year.

REACH Community Services’ head of counselling services, Jessie Koh, points out about 60 per cent of their clients seek counselling because of marital issues caused by spousal infidelity.

Needless to say, a cheating spouse can inflict irreparable damage on a marriage ― the impact is far worse when kids are part of the equation. Koh lists several devastating results of infidelity on your child, including:

1) Feeling embarrassed When acquaintances — like neighbours or even your kiddo’s classmates — learn about a spouse’s infidelity, this can become a source of immense embarrassment for junior. Koh notes, “It is possible for the kid to feel embarrassed, especially if one hears negative things being said about their parents.”

“It is something difficult for child to accept because all children want to believe and see parents as their role models or their hero and heroine.”

 

2) Loss of respect and trust for the cheating spouse When one parent’s actions hurts the other, Koh cautions that it is only natural that your child will begin to disrespect and lose trust. “It is something difficult for child to accept because all children want to believe and see parents as their role models or their hero and heroine.

Lai adds that when integrity has been compromised, junior will likely lose respect for the cheating spouse.

3) Feelings of anger and insecurity Anger is a spontaneous reaction if person’s way of life is disrupted or if there’s anything that leads to a negative consequence, Koh explains. A stable family is also the foundation of your child’s sense of self, adds Lai. As a result, the act of adultery can cause them to feel insecure.

4) Start keeping secrets Your child may stop confiding in you both if any issues trouble them as they are reluctant, lest it strains their parents’ relationship further.

 

Kids-How-infidelity-affects-your-kids-2

5) Feelings of blame and guilt Children can add stress on a couple’s relationship, especially when parents tend to prioritise their child’s needs above their own. Arguments over your child’s school performance can also be a source of conflict between spouses. Even though it may seem unrelated to the reason why a spouse may stray, some children may blame themselves for straining their parent’s relationship.

6) Have trouble forming healthy relationships Once your child is of an age to date, they will doubt their own ability to form loving or loving relationships with their partners. They will feel unsure about how to navigate a healthy relationship because they might be determined not to repeat their parents’ mistakes.

All these troubling outcomes can lead affect your offspring’s behaviour negatively, even affecting their day-to-day routines. Koh says any negative changes in junior’s behaviour is a tell-tale sign that your child needs counselling.

During therapy, Lai explains that a counsellor will talk about the issue objectively with your child and teach them coping techniques for anger and anxiety. The counsellor will also help facilitate any parent-child conversation.

“The cheating spouse should consider not only seeking forgiveness, but also taking active steps to repair the marriage, which may include getting counselling to learn the root cause of their infidelity.”

Should you tell your child if you or your spouse cheated?

Seeing as your young ’un may suffer as a result of an extramarital affair, you may be wondering if you should keep this mistake a secret from the kids. Lai advises that if you and your spouse are able to resolve the issue and reconcile, it may not benefit the child to know all the details.

Koh cautions that infidelity is a matter between the spouses and separate from the parent-child relationship. Whatever their age, your children will not have the same level of maturity as an adult or the moral compass to understand that their parent has cheated on their marriage.

Also, most children would have had a good relationship with their parents. “If parents care enough for their kid's happiness, then what good would it do to cultivate negative feelings which even adults wouldn’t be able to handle?”

On the other hand, if you’ve chosen to split up, Koh advises that it’s best to focus on the fact that because you both have differences and find it difficult to come to an agreement, and have decided to part ways.

Your child will likely feel vulnerable at the prospect of their parents breaking up. So, Lai advises that you only share briefly about what has happened and focus on reassuring your children. Leave out any strong emotions such as hurt, anger and irritation.

A happy ending is still possible…

While a fallout is to be expected when a spouse cheats, it doesn’t necessarily have to spell the end of a loving relationship. Lai says reconciliation and working to repair broken trust and relationships will be difficult but not an impossible task.

“The cheating spouse should consider not only seeking forgiveness, but also taking active steps to repair the marriage, which may include getting counselling to learn the root cause of their infidelity.”

Photos: iStock

Like us on Facebook and check SmartParents regularly for the latest reads!

Elsewhere on SmartParents.sg

Do you know what your spouse’s love language is?

10 bad parenting habits to stop doing right now [Infographic]

11 signs junior is becoming a mini-adult