What to tell the children?

It's almost impossible to shield children from the effects of sex or pornography addiction, or from the effects of betrayal. Children are very intuitive, and if parents pretend that nothing is wrong, this can compound their confusion, lead to a lack of safety, and internalize the problem as their own.

Talking to children about a parent's sex or porn addiction is a sensitive and challenging conversation. However, it is an essential step towards helping them understand the situation and providing them with the necessary support and a feeling of safety.

Here are some important steps to consider when approaching this difficult conversation:

  1. Educate yourself: Before initiating the conversation, it is essential to educate yourself about the addiction and its impact. This will help you to communicate the information accurately and address any questions your children may have.
    (See the educational resources below)
  2. Timing is crucial: Choose a time when your children are likely to be receptive to the information. Avoid discussing the topic when they are tired, hungry, or distracted. Find a time and place where you can talk calmly and without interruptions.
  3. Be honest and direct: When disclosing the addiction, be honest and direct with your children. Explain the addiction in simple terms, so they can understand what it means. Use age-appropriate language and avoid using euphemisms, and slang.
  4. Emphasize that it is not their fault: Children may feel responsible for the addiction or believe they have caused it. It is essential to emphasize that it is not their fault and that they are not responsible for their parent's actions.
  5. Listen quietly to their responses . Offer reassurance and support: Let your children know that they are loved and that they can talk to you about their feelings. Offer them a Feelings Wheel if they have trouble expressing themselves. Offer reassurance that the family is seeking outside professional assistance and will work together to support the addicted parent and overcome the addiction.
  6. Seek professional help: It is important to seek professional help for both the addicted parent and the children. A therapist or counselor can help children process their emotions and provide them with coping strategies. They can also help the addicted parent seek treatment and recovery.

In summary, disclosing a parent's sex or porn addiction to children requires sensitivity, honesty, and support. By approaching the conversation with care and seeking professional help, you can help your children understand the situation and provide them with the necessary support.

Educational Resources to Prepare Parents:

This is a video education aimed at providers, but we  can understand the concepts and advice. It's very appropriate for us to learn all we can about this, and prevent further trauma in our families.



Sex Addiction Disclosure to Children: The Parents’ Perspective By M. Deborah Corley and Jennifer P. SchneiderSexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 2004, in press, Abstract.

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