Some time ago I received a call from the Dr. Phil Show wanting to know if had any information about children of affairs. I did some research and was shocked to find…nothing! I have to say I am completely amazed at the silence the helping professions have maintained on this issue.
So, I’m not sure where they found this statistic, but the show that they eventually did opens with the claim that 3% of children born in the U.S. are the result of an affair.
The guest on their show was a woman who had found out during her childhood that the man she had thought was her father was not, and that her mother and many other relatives had been lying to her her whole life. Her mother, and her biological father’s family hated her for what she reminded them of. As a result, she grew up hating herself and not believing she belonged anywhere, or deserved anything, such as love, happiness or even the right to be alive. She feels unable to love, and has not had any successful adult relationships.
She feels that her mother and stepfather should never have told her the truth, that by doing so they ruined her life. I wonder if not telling her would have been much better.
The adult children of affairs that I have seen in my practice have similar struggles. They experience great difficulty forming secure, deep and long lasting bonds with others, and struggle with addictions and self hatred. There is usually a sense of not being able to completely relax, a feeling that something isn’t quite right. They can be perceived as cold, or uncaring, but remaining emotionally unavailable is a way they have learned to protect themselves from further betrayal.
If you are a child of an affair, please share your story. Your voices deserve to be heard.