by Tracy Roberts on Thursday, August 20th, 2015
Addicts often believe their struggle with sex addiction does not impact their children. They think their behavior does not hurt their kids because most of their addictive actions, like pornography, strip clubs, affairs, chat rooms, frequenting prostitutes, etc., are unknown to their children. Hopefully, these behaviors are unfamiliar to children, but we often underestimate just how much children perceive and understand.
At the root of sex addiction is an inability to have healthy connection with other people, including the inability to appropriately relate with one’s children. Children need their parents to be emotionally present. When addicts are pursuing their addiction, the focus is not on connecting with their children but on finding a way to get their next fix. Addicts are pre-occupied with the addiction, and connecting to their children is often the cost. Children often internalize this distance and deep down children believe they are the reason their parent doesn’t connect with them. The result, they begin to believe they are bad and unworthy of love.
When addicts start to uncover their own distorted belief system through recovery, they begin to understand the roots of their addiction. They may stem from feelings of being inherently bad and unworthy of love, just like the children mentioned above. These feelings of unworthiness have led them to search for connection in one of two ways: they either numb out the pain or try to feel connected to others through sexual acts. A lack of connection in early life leads to the possibility for unhealthy behavior later in life. And the cycle continues as the adult addict unknowingly disconnects from their children. The irony, the addict teaches their children to be at a distance, the exact issues feeding their addict.
It is not set in stone that children of sex addicts will become addicts themselves. However, a devastating reality is that children will not learn how to properly connect from their addicted parent. It is often said that children don’t listen to what you say; they watch what you do. What type of relational connection are your children learning from your behavior?