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The Impact of Infidelity on Children: 6 Ways to Support your Kids

The Impact of Infidelity on Children: 6 Ways to Support your Kids

The Impact of Infidelity on Children: 6 Ways to Support your Kids

Infidelity in a marriage is a deeply painful experience, not only for the betrayed spouse but also for innocent bystanders–the children. While we didn’t have children yet when we experienced the pain of infidelity in our marriage, nearly all the couples we guide do have children. So, we understand the intricate dynamics and the profound impact it can have on children. 

In this article, we will explore the impact of infidelity on children and provide six practical tips on how to support them through the process of healing and restoration within their parents’ marriage. Remember, with God’s grace, families can emerge stronger from this ordeal.

1. Keep an open line of age-appropriate communication

No matter what age your kids are, they are able to sense that something is wrong. Whether there have been blatantly obvious or subtle signals of unrest or brokenness, the children living in your home will be able to feel that something is off. It’s important that parents understand that our children are more intune to their environment than we may think. 

When faced with the trauma of betrayal, it’s tempting to try to completely hide the division in the marriage from the kids. It’s a natural response to protect your children from emotional turmoil. But, since your kids probably already feel the tension in your home, this desire to protect could actually backfire.

You see, children need to trust their parents. They need you to be age-appropriately honest with them. They want to know that you are truth-tellers. If you are telling them that “everything is ok” but they can see and feel that everything is definitely not ok, they can become confused. Depending on their age, this lack of truthfulness about a situation can erode trust substantially.

This does not mean that you tell your kids details about the infidelity. At Side By Side, we guide couples to only share what is necessary for children to feel trusted, trusting and safe. Most of the time, this sounds like:

“Daddy and Mommy are having a really hard time in our marriage. We have experienced some hurt and we need to heal. We love you deeply and will continue to love you and care for you.”

“Dad and Mom are sinners, just like the Bible says. And sometimes sinners hurt each other and need time to forgive and heal. Marriage is a gift from God, but sometimes it’s really challenging. But we love each other and we love you. Do you have any questions?”

When your children ask questions, please carefully answer them with the “long game” in mind. You may be tempted to speak poorly about your spouse, tell details of your spouse’s betrayal, or blame your spouse for the circumstance. Resist the temptation to slander your spouse in any way. Your kids may remember what you say for the rest of their lives. Consider carefully the information you share with your children–you cannot take your words back.

If possible, decide together with your spouse what you will share or not share with your children. Even if everything else in your marriage feels divided, let this be something that unifies you.

2. Reassure your children of security, safety, and love

It can feel really scary for children to watch the aftermath of the discovery of infidelity in their parent’s marriage, even if they don’t know the details of what is happening. Your marriage provides their primary sense of security. 

It’s important to reassure them of God’s love, first and foremost. Remind them–and yourself–that God loves them, provides for them, protects them, and guides them. His love is ever-present and never changes.

Remind your kids of your love for them frequently. Tell them and show them that they are important to you and that you love them no matter what. 

Reassure your children that you are leaning on God, seeking help to move toward healing, and that you will continue to keep them appropriately informed. Don’t assume they just “know” that you are thinking of them during this difficult time. It’s possible you may seem distant to them simply because you are spending a great deal of time grieving, hashing things out with your spouse, and seeking counsel

Again, ask your kids if they have any questions–their response may reveal what type of reassurance they most need.

3. Provide as much stability and routine as possible

Children crave routine. They feel more safe and secure with boundaries, structure, and routine. Believe it or not, it can be helpful for you as well.

Directly after the reveal of infidelity, your routine will certainly take a backseat. You need time to process and grieve. Try not to push yourself to do much of anything. Instead, consider having someone else–a trusted family member or friend– keep your kids on their routine. Gradually, you may find that getting your entire family back into a routine will help in the process of healing.

While you and your spouse are working through the healing process, consider what will help your kids feel stable and secure. Do you typically do a family movie night? Try keeping that on your schedule, even if one spouse isn’t able to make it. Do your kids have sporting events during the week? Take them to the game, or have a trusted friend get them there. Is Sunday worship part of your family structure? When you feel up to it, get back into the routine of attending church. 

Stability and routine can be helpful in the healing process for you and your children.

4. Lead by example

We’ve heard it said that kids learn what is caught rather than taught. This means they are watching us, evaluating our responses, and deciding based on our model how they, too, will respond. 

If you want your children to respond to this division in your family with love and forgiveness, then you must model love and forgiveness to them. On the other hand, they may respond to this with anger and violence if they see you responding with anger and violence.

When children are involved, it’s important to remember that this terrible circumstance isn’t just affecting you–it’s affecting you, your spouse, your children, your extended family, your friends, and the ripple effect can go on from there. 

If you are a person of faith, your response to this situation also affects your witness. It’s especially important you respond to this trauma in a way that is God-honoring and biblically-based. Your response is the example you are providing to your children.

 Unfortunately, your kids are already experiencing the aftermath of adultery, one of God’s “top 10.” You now have the opportunity to lead them by example in how you move forward toward forgiveness, healing and hopefully, reconciliation.

Here’s a few ideas of how to lead by example:

Pray. Cry out to God, receive guidance from the Lord, ask Him for help, hand your deep, dark emotions to Him. Let your kids see that, when life is hard, we pray.

Guard your tongue. Resist using your words as weapons. Carefully consider what you share with others.  Don’t slander your spouse to your children.

Seek help. Don’t try to do this alone. Get help. Let your kids see that you are receiving guidance from a trusted, godly person. Seeking guidance is a sign of strength.

Modeling what it looks like to experience adversity in a godly way and seek genuine God-given healing will guide your children to do the same.

5. Seek faithful, godly support

As we touched on in the previous section, seeking help is vital in healing from infidelity. Moreso, receiving the right kind of help will make all the difference. 

What is the right kind of help? We believe that biblically-based guidance is the only way toward lasting healing. This is true for you and your kids. You all need help to get through this tough time, and God’s Word is an ever-present source of help. We recommend reaching out to a trusted pastor, biblical counselor, or faithful friend who can help to guide you and your children toward biblical help and healing. 

Your kids need this just as much as you do. Even if it’s simply making the choice to open the Bible together to find wisdom, they will see that help comes from God. If your situation is more complicated, your kids may benefit from counseling. They may need to have a safe, trusted counselor to process what is happening with their parents.

6. Unite your family with faith and prayer

Though we’ve touched on this concept a few times already, we cannot overestimate the power of prayer and the importance of faith. Your children need to know Who to turn to when people fail. God created us, He made marriage, and He designed the family. He is the perfect source for guidance on how to walk through this difficult time.

There has been a breach of trust in your family that reveals our human, sinful nature. This was not what God intended for us or our kids, but He is the One who can help us pick up the pieces. 

Even in the midst of your own pain, you can point your kids to Jesus. You have the opportunity to show them Who will provide true hope. In our home, we have a saying we repeat during difficult times: “We dare to thank you, God, for the opportunity to trust you more.”*

You can teach your children that, in the midst of life’s darkest moments, we can turn to God and trust Him for the outcome. He is our hope.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Romans 15:13

No one wishes for hardship in our children’s lives, especially one that we may have caused. But we can help our kids respond to life’s challenges with godly wisdom, especially while we choose to do so ourselves. 

We are praying for you and your family to heal and grow through the process of navigating the aftermath of infidelity. May God guide you and protect you and your children as you journey from hurt to hope.

*Thank you to our counselor for providing this statement.


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Side By Side Music, Inc is registered as a 501(c)3 Non-profit organization by the IRS.

Side By Side guides marriages divided by infidelity to journey from hurt to hope.


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