Families are greatly impacted by sex addiction. The relational rupture and trauma that occurs between the addict and partner also effects the children, including confusion, anger and pain – and this occurs for the family at different stages of addiction and recovery.

As parents struggle to orient themselves to a new reality in recovery, it can be overwhelming and painful for a parent to recognize the immediate and future impact of sex addiction on their children. Even when sex addiction is acknowledged, well-intentioned parents can make serious mistakes in managing the family. Questions need to be answered, such as “are we acting appropriately and in our child’s best interest?” and, “is our child internalizing our pain and anger and acting out in their own way?”

A parent can incorrectly believe that a child is not affected by an addiction because that child “doesn’t know what’s really going on.” The reality is that children (from toddlers to teens) are emotional sponges; absorbing the tension and energy around them. This is often exacerbated when children feel the strain and abrupt changes in the household and are not prepared to fully understand what is occurring.

Frequently the negative repercussions are not addressed until the child or teen begins to show signs of serious problems. The reality is whether or not a child show signs of distress, the impact of sex addiction has ramifications for their future as it affects relationships and poor partner choices, sexuality, trust and overall sense of reality. Without the problem being appropriately acknowledged and addressed, children continue to be victimized by sex addiction by what they hear, intuitively feel and by what they experience.

Questions we can help answer include:

  • Do you know how to talk to your kids about what is occurring, based on their age, maturity, and exposure to the addiction?
  • What messages is your child receiving from each of you, and are they consistent and congruent?
  • What information is appropriate for our children to know, and how much is too much?
  • What are the signs that a child is being adversely impacted by an addiction and recovery?
  • What kind of negativity or disparaging information have child received regarding your spouse in a moment of anger or pain?
  • My child doesn’t know, why would I open this can of worms?

Daniela Judah-Ormani, LCSW, is a parenting specialist and offers short-term parental counseling of 3-12 sessions for partners and addicts to appropriately manage addiction and recovery for their family, including understanding and learning how to speak to children about sex addiction and recovery. Sessions are conducted both individually and conjointly, when appropriate. Full Bio >>