How to Tell Your Children About Your Sex Addiction
If you are recovering from a sex addiction, it may feel as though a huge weight has been lifted from your shoulders. You’re no longer hiding your behavior or feeding into it, and you’re ready to move forward into a healthy and happy recovery.
The hardest part of recovery is talking about it with the people you love. This can include your parents, your spouse, and your friends. But what about your children? Do they need to know too?
If you, your spouse, and your therapist all decide that discussing your sex addiction with your children is important, don’t panic. While the topic may be uncomfortable, it is important that you communicate with your children regarding your addiction so they feel included and their feelings can be heard.
To tell your children about your sex addiction, it’s best to come up with a plan. This plan can vary depending on several factors. However, it should look something like this:
Decide how much to share
Most importantly, consider your children’s ages and decide just how much you need or want to share with them about your sex addiction. Sometimes, it can be healing to tell them everything. However, if your children are very young, it might be better to screen certain details and only tell them the basics. This decision should not be made lightly, so don’t be afraid to talk about it with your spouse and therapist first.
Discuss the conversation in advance
Once you’ve decided how much information you’re willing to give your children, consider the conversation with your support team. How do you hope the conversation will go? What do you want to tell them? Are there any details you want to avoid at all costs? Discussing the conversation and everything you expect to come from it before you actually have it is important. This can help ease anxiety and help you prepare.
Choose an appropriate location
Next, make sure to consider an appropriate location. Sex addiction is a highly sensitive topic no matter who you’re disusssing it with. Therefore, choose a location that is safe, quiet, and private. Great options include your own home or the therapist’s office. Whatever you choose to do, make sure to avoid public locations such as restaurants, coffee shops, or parks. This can invite unwanted attention or embarrassment.
Don’t ask for forgiveness
When you’re ready to tell your children about your sex addiction, make sure to be as open and honest with them as possible. Don’t provide excuses for your actions and don’t ask for their forgiveness. This conversation is not necessarily about you and your recovery (although it can certainly help!) but rather communicating with your children regarding a serious life circumstance that may or may not affect them. This is especially true if your relationship with your spouse will be changing or your marriage may be ending.
Answer all of their questions
Once you’ve shared all of the information you’re comfortable sharing, let your children have time to speak. They may not know what to say, and that’s okay! Alternatively, they may have a lot of questions for you. That’s okay, too. Answer all of their questions honestly. Don’t avoid their questions or allow shame and embarrassment to creep in. Honesty is the key to healthy communication and your children need to know that you’re willing to build that trust with them.
Accept their emotions
If your children are upset after you talk about your sex addiction, don’t worry. That’s a normal reaction to this sensitive topic and it means that they need some time to process. Give them the space they need to work through their emotions and accept that they have a right to do that. Whatever happens, assure your children that you love them and you’re willing to talk whenever they are.
Tell them it’s not their fault
Lastly, make sure your children leave the conversation knowing that your addiction, and how it has affected the family, is not their fault. Children have a way of internalizing painful situations and feeling as though they caused them. Therefore, let them know that your addiction and your negative behavior had nothing to do with them. Your actions were your own and you take full responsibility for them.
Seek Professional Guidance
Are you ready to discuss your sex addiction with your children but you’re not sure how to start? No problem! At CDA Counseling, we help addicts like you come to terms with sex addiction. We can help you walk through your behavior and develop a healthy and safe path towards recovery. This includes developing a strategy to explain your addiction to loved ones.
Don’t keep hiding your addiction from others – contact us today to get started on the path to honesty and transparency.