How Many Families Were Broken This Week After the Ashley Madison Hack?

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Does the sanctity of marriage even exist anymore? Was “til’ death do us part” just a catchy tag line that sounded good at the time? When two people say “I do” they are pledging their lives to one another. Trust, honesty, and respect are three important pillars of a marriage and without one or the others the union can’t work.

I was reading through news stories online when I came across an article about a website that had been hacked called Ashley Madison. I had never heard of it before, but once I read their motto, “Life is Short, Have an Affair” the site’s purpose became self explanatory.

Millions of their clients had their personal information breached and leaked onto the dark web for the entire world to see. I wonder how many families with children this will destroy. Imagine finding out that the husband (or wife) you love and trust is a member of a website strictly devoted to hooking up and having affairs. It would be a living nightmare. I never understood why some husbands and wives cheat. Why not spare the person a lifetime of heartache and pain and get out of the marriage before that happens?

As I continued reading, I was shocked to find that one of the website’s clients was Josh Duggar of “19 Kids and Counting” fame. My jaw dropped to the table. Not only was Josh a pedophile who molested his own sisters, but now he was cheating on his wife and family using Ashley Madison as his playground.

My heart breaks for his wife and children, as they are the innocents. Their entire world has been turned inside out over the choices that Josh has made, and it is playing out in front of the whole world.

Dr. Ana Nogales has written a book called Parents Who Cheat: How Children and Adults are Affected When Their Parents are Unfaithful. In the book, the doctor examines what effects an affair has on a child. It can leave a child feeling hopeless, guilty, tainted, and damaged. Many carry these feelings through to adulthood, where they find themselves in a relationship in which their partner cheats or they become the cheaters themselves.

Nogales confirms my thoughts and feelings on infidelity. When a parent breaks a faithful bond with the other parent, they also break an “unspoken promise to their children.” It also leaves them with a wealth of “psychological” and trust issues that could haunt them for the rest of their lives.

The sexual revolution that began in the 1960s had a lot to do with the change in thought about traditional relationships. It challenged monogamy and toted acceptance of intimacy outside of a marriage. Many factors led to a more “open” society during this time including the birth control pill, the women’s rights movement, the rise of the porn industry, and the gay rights movement. Many believe this era was the beginning of the end for traditional family values.

Today our youth have far too much access at their fingertips when it comes to inappropriate content. The internet is a double-edged sword as one of the best and worst inventions in history. With one click, children can access a host of inappropriate content ready to poison their developing minds.

As a parent, I spoke with my children early on about the birds and the bees and the good and bad that comes along with that subject. It’s not always easy to have that conversation with your kids and can be uncomfortable, but it is necessary to have it. I made sure we had parental controls on all devices, such as computers, as well. Never feel bad or guilty for monitoring your kids and what they are doing.

One time when my son was younger, I decided to check our computer’s history (he would die if he knew I was telling this story). To my absolute horror, there it was. In the history cache, staring back at me in big bold letters was the word “BOOBS”! Even though I had parental controls activated, somehow that search still managed to get through. Well, of course, after I got finished laughing and got past the initial shock, I questioned the family. When I approached my son about it he began to cry nervously. I assured him I wasn’t mad at him and that opened up a serious dialogue.

He explained to me he was curious about girls and was sorry he looked that up. I told my son that I understood he was curious, but that what he saw was not a real representation of what a woman is. That what he was looking at was not how real women are and that I didn’t want him to have an unrealistic or perverted view of women and what love is. He understood what I was telling him and I think he felt relieved that we had that talk.

Cultivating healthy relationships for your children begins at home. Talking with your kids, even if it’s uncomfortable, needs to happen. Have that talk about sex, drugs, and the consequences they both can have. I guarantee that if you don’t have it with them, they will be having it with their friends or someone else and that kind of  delicate information is better coming from you.

In the case of the Duggar parents, I don’t think they handled their son’s indiscretions appropriately, if at all. And fame and money got in the way of them seeking out real psychological help for Josh that he obviously so desperately needed. Parents take an unspoken oath to protect their children from harm — and that includes the ills of our society. Instilling rock-solid values and helping them build a strong moral foundation begins and ends with you.