How the Ashley Madison scandal will affect children



In recent weeks the breech of data from the website called Ashley Madison has disrupted millions of lives and compromised countless families.

On Wikipedia you can read how in July of this year hackers stole user data from a commercial website called Ashley Madison. This site is billed a vehicle to enable extramarital affairs. The hackers have now released 25 gigabytes of company data including details of user’s information such as names, addresses, credit card transactions, search history, etc.

The fall out in the Christian world has been devastating

  • Users are facing public shame
  • Families are experiencing untold embarrassment
  • Spouses are angry and hurt
  • Many children know something is going on but no one in the family is talking
  • Pastors, seminary professors and other prominent Christian figures are being exposed
  • Even sadder than the publicity of these people has been the death of prominent Christians due to apparent suicide

These families face much pain. Many questions are floating around on social medial.

Will the offended spouses have ability to forgive spouses who were unfaithful? Will the partner that was hurt be able to move forward in the marriage with the one who flirted with the idea of being unfaithful by logging into the Ashley Madison website? Each couple will need to work through the many issues involved. A lot of couples will need loving and individualized counseling in order to survive the damage to their relationship. 

What about the children

We don’t know yet how the exposure from the Ashley Madison affair is affecting children. It depends on what happened when the offending parent visited the site. It depends on how much the child learns about the situation. Also whether the parents are able to salvage the marriage will impact the child. For those who think children don’t know about the scandal, don’t be sure about that. While children might be shielded from the news, many kids at school will be talking.

We know for sure that if the parents’ marriage doesn’t survive, then the children will be deeply and permanently affected.

It’s also clear that when a father has taken his own life because of the shame of being exposed, the children are going to be devastated for the rest of their lives. Such situations are tragic and my heart goes out to the remaining parent as they try to move forward with their lives.

I suspect for the marriages that do survive the fall out for the kids will be minimal depending on what is told to the children. Obviously, if the child is old enough and savvy enough (which includes almost any kid over the age of ten) the child will probably learn of the family disgrace and is going to be stunned. A loss of trust will more than likely prevail for several years. 

What can churches do

I fear the ramifications of the Ashley Madison situation is going to affect us for years to come. The world is always waiting to discredit the work of God’s people and His mission.

To be honest I’m not sure what can be done to restore credibility overall, but I do have some suggestions that will hopefully impact the children we serve.

  • If the child/teen has discovered their parent’s name on the list of names on the Ashley Madison site, the children’s minister or youth pastor might need to sit down with the child/teen and listen to what the child is thinking and how he is feeling.
  • Next, visit with the parent who visited the online site (or other online dating sites) and have the parent talk through the reason behind such an indiscretion. Help them rehearse what to say to the child/teen.
  • Separately meet with the offended spouse before the couple talks with the children or teens in the family. Help them to understand what their role will be in the meeting with their children.
  • Offer to sit in on the “family meeting” if needed.
  • Preach sermons from the pulpit about the power of forgiveness.
  • Provide lessons in children’s groups about the power of forgiveness along with the power of prayer.
  • Provide marriage classes for struggling marriages.
  • Provide small groups such as DivorceCare for Kids for children whose parents follow through with a divorce
  • Provide small group sessions such as DivorceCare for the hurting parent. When you help the struggling parent, you help the child because the parent has an opportunity to heal through the power of the Holy Spirit

Now is not the time to get complacent. While some of your congregants who have visited the Ashley Madison site may have marriages that appear to be surviving right now, be on the look out for fall out in the future. The groundwork for mistrust has been laid. Only through prayer, education, forgiveness and God’s grace and mercy can these marriages be healed.

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One thought on “How the Ashley Madison scandal will affect children

  1. Pingback: DC4K » How infidelity between a parent and a family friend devastates the children

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