I have treated hundreds of clients in my 10 years of practicing therapy and I must say that I am convinced that one's upbringing has an enormous impact on their future issues in relationships, and with various addictions. Let's face it, we have an addicted society here in the US. People will use anything and more to escape their "realities"....and the age when addictions start is getting younger and younger, no matter what one's faith or background. Neither religion nor other forms of societal control can stop it..... but you and I can. It starts at home. It is not television, it's not video games, it's not friends. Yes these absolutely play a part at some point. However, it truly begins with mom and dad (or dad and dad, mom and mom). It starts with one's parental figures. The research on trauma points to this. The research on sexual addictions and other addictions points to this. When I hear couples on the verge of divorce and fighting constantly (as well as sleeping in separate rooms, not showing any affection or attention, being disrespectful in front of the kids) say that they are "staying together for the child(ren)" my first response is "Who really benefits from this?" followed by, "Do you realize what you are teaching your child about relationships?" About how to treat their partner?"
People do not realize the impact they are having on their children.
I work with adults mainly because I used to get frustrated when parents would bring their child or teen into see me saying they had issues when the parents were the one with the issues! The child/teen was literally acting out as a way to cope with the chaos at home. So now, I work with adults and couples who once were the children needing therapy as a result of the chaos from home.
Please know that I am not saying there aren't any good parents out there. I know there are good parents as well as adjusted children and adults. I have actually met them. However, I am a therapist who treats trauma and addictions; this is my focus...finding out the origin of The Trauma Wound and assisting my clients in healing. I deal with the dark side of life on a daily basis with the hope of shedding light on my client's futures...
Many clients feel guilty acknowledging that their parents failed them in many ways as children. Some say, "Now that I am an adult, I don't want to use what my parents did or didn't do or how they treated me as an excuse for my current life choices and struggles." I certainly agree that as adults we are accountable for how we choose to live and what we choose to do. This is different, however, from acknowledging that when they were a child and being sexually, physically, emotionally, etc. abused and/or neglected by one or more family members and one or both parents didn't do anything, their parents indeed failed them (in more ways than one, and by staying together, if one of the primary caregivers was in fact the abuser; or by not doing anything if others in the household were responsible for abuse).
Children are so intuitive...little sponges that take in what they sense as much as what they see and hear. We all were tuned in at some point in our lives, most often before the trauma occurred, and maybe even more tuned in now as a result of past traumatic events. Parents need to take more time to check in with their kids; ask them how THEY feel about their home life, friends, siblings, the news and national events (recent shooting, for instance), and how they are being affected by all of these factors. Parents need to remind their kids that there is an open door policy to talking about anything. I mean anything, literally. Why? Children have access to SO much these days; home deserves to be a safe place for them to retreat from the scary world where porn is accessed by 1/3 of all American Teens while doing their homework.
So for parents that are struggling in their relationship, my advice is this: Go talk to a trained professional and work on your issues. That way if you end up deciding to stay "for the children", everyone (kids included) will likely agree that this is truly the best thing to do.