Impact of sexual addiction on the children

Sex addiction expert Kenneth M. Adams, PhD talks about the effect a parent's sex addiction or infidelity can have on a child
Family and Parenting Advice | Impact of sexual addiction on the children
KidsInTheHouse the Ultimate Parenting Resource
Kids in the House Tour

Impact of sexual addiction on the children

So children are very much impacted by growing up in a family with a sex addict as one of their parents. And there's a number of ways that can happen and there's a number of ways that you can think about dealing with that. One of the ways is through the exposure to the parents behavior either watching them or seeing them wih pornography and then being curious or traumatized by seeing, so you have an eight year old walk in on his father masterbating to pornography, very traumatic for children. The key is for children is not to overstimulate them before they're developmentally ready to process what they're witnessing. That's always the key for parents as they start to ask questions about is this too much? So that happens. The conflict between the parents is also part of what impacts the kids, so it's exposure to the sexual behaviors, also affairs. So invariably when we in my practice, you know, we have people who, you know, I knew my dad was having an affair. I knew my mother was having an affair, kids know. Parents think they're hiding it, kids know. Almost all the time, kids particularly your first borns and your last borns are always tuned into the marital relationship and they more than the other kids can often be quite attune to that. So it's important that the kids understand in the treatment process what's been going on without overexposing them to too much information. So at a young age, you know, at a five year old, your father and I have had some problems and we're working on them, you know? If the kid has been exposed to pornography, the father says, you know, I shouldn't be doing that, that hurts your mother and I'm working on that. So it's important to let the children know that you're getting help, but not giving them more information than is needed. And one of the problems that we see sometimes when that is broken is sometimes the partner or spouse in their anger understandably will want to tell the kids what the other parent did sexually and what we see is what we call a secondary trauma issue in which the child is now damaged by the revealing from their parent who has been angry. Your father has had affairs with prostitutes to a 12 year old girl is not the thing to do even if you're angry with your husband as much as it makes sense that you'd want to do that, it becomes its own tramatic experience with the children.

Sex addiction expert Kenneth M. Adams, PhD talks about the effect a parent's sex addiction or infidelity can have on a child


Expert Bio

More from Expert

Kenneth M. Adams, PhD

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Kenneth M. Adams, Ph.D., CSAT, is a Licensed Psychologist, the Clinical Director and Founder of Kenneth M. Adams and Associates in suburban Detroit, Michigan, as well as a faculty member at the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals. As previous Clinical Director for the Life Healing Center in Sante Fe, New Mexico, a residential treatment center for trauma and addiction, Dr Adams created the first inpatient program exclusively for partners of sex addicts. In addition to maintaining an active clinical practice, Dr. Adams is a national lecturer, workshop leader, and consultant in the areas of child abuse, dysfunctional family systems, and sex addiction. He is the author of numerous peer-reviewed publications, the books Silently Seduced and When He’s Married to Mom, as well as co-editor of Clinical Management of Sex Addiction. In 2011, Dr Adams received the “Carnes Award” for “outstanding work in the field of sexual addiction and compulsivity”. He is a certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT), a CSAT supervisor, and CSAT training facilitator as well as an Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) practitioner. Dr. Adams is a member of the American Psychological Association, Michigan Psychological Association, Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health (SASH), and International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP) as well as an advisory board member to SASH and IITAP, and an editorial board member of Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention. For more on Dr Adams visit


More Parenting Videos from Kenneth M. Adams, PhD >
Enter your email to
download & subscribe
to our newsletter