When addiction and betrayal fracture a family unit, the impact extends beyond just the couple, so you may be wondering when it’s time for a family disclosure. Children, even small ones, notice the increased tension and disruption in the home. They may blame themselves or take on caretaker roles. Opening up in an age-appropriate way can help validate their feelings and experiences.
What Does a Family Disclosure Look Like?
A family disclosure is a joint document created by both partners with the help of therapists and coaches. It shares basic details about the addiction/betrayal to help the children make sense of the changes in the family dynamic. The focus stays on the kids’ needs rather than blaming or dwelling on the pain and betrayal that the parents have experienced. Family disclosures usually happen in a supportive environment with someone present to help the children process.
Timing and Tailoring Matters
Family disclosures work best when the couple has reached adequate stability in their own recovery and relationship. Ongoing suicidality or self-harm behaviors may indicate it’s not the right time yet. However, problematic sexual behaviors arising in the kids can signal a need for disclosure to help them understand and process in healthy ways what they may be acting out in unhealthy ways. Information should be tailored to each child’s developmental stage and personal readiness. Some kids may want minimal details initially, and that is okay. It’s an ongoing conversation.
Hallmarks of a Healthy Family
Beyond disclosure, certain practices promote family health, such as–
– Apologizing openly when parents make mistakes
– Allowing all feelings without judgment
– Normalizing sex and keeping an open dialogue
– Differentiating parents’ vs kids’ responsibilities
Even small improvements to communication patterns can make a big difference.
Addressing Hidden Wounds
Unresolved trauma can sabotage recovery. If couples feel “stuck” despite using the right tools, underlying issues may block progress. Brainspotting helps process trauma and emotions at a deeper, somatic level.
Hope Springs from Difficult Conversations
With care and courage, families can emerge stronger. Guidance is available to navigate this delicately. Prioritizing the shared values of honesty and trust lays the foundation for healing. There is always hope when you choose to create it.
– Family disclosures help validate kids’ experiences in an age-appropriate way
– Timing and details get tailored for each child’s needs and readiness
– Healthy communication patterns need to be (re)established
– Trauma may need to be addressed on a somatic level for full recovery
– With support, families can heal and form deeper bonds after betrayal