If you have an extramarital affair, you can ruin your child’s chances for having happy love when s/he is grown. No matter what age the child is when you have the affair…even if your “child” is now old enough to be in college.
Having an affair doesn’t only deceiving your spouse, it often involves deceiving yourself…especially about the effect your actions have on your children now and in their future.
Even if the marriage doesn’t end in divorce, infidelity negatively affects kids. They often view their parent’s cheating to be against them. Their security is threatened. Their trust is broken. They experience humiliation and shame. As adults they often fear their own spouse being unfaithful and live jealous lives. Sometimes their fear is strong enough to prevent their having loving relationships. And, sometimes, they themselves become more likely to cheat on their partners.
If divorce occurs, it gets worse. Some people say “kids are resilient; they’ll be fine.” The evidence is quite to the contrary. Ample research exists about the long-term effect of divorce on children including things such as poorer physical health than children from intact families, persistent problems with fears of betrayal and abandonment, increased anxiety in late teens and early 20s, resentment and anger, and low life satisfaction. Additionally, they may participate in sexual intercourse earlier, have a reduced ability to develop and maintain relationships, have a greater likelihood to demonstrate delinquent behaviors, and be more likely to go through a divorce themselves. (All documented in valid research.)
In this program Dr. Joe Beam discusses how affairs affect children, whether divorce or not.