Did you have to hold a secret for an adult in your family? Keeping secrets in families, especially across generations can be harmful for the family and the holder of the secret.
Take the example above. Here the mother and child who know about the affair form a family subgroup. This can be damaging to the rest of the family unit. Others in the family may feel that something has changed in the daughter, but she is unable to share openly for fear of betraying her mother and hurting her father.
The one who holds the secret can become symptomatic. They can express the stress of the situation through challenging behaviour, anxiety or physical symptoms.
The holder of the secret can also feel left out of the family fun, no longer able to play freely with their siblings. They feel somehow different and become older before their time.
If this is you, know that you can heal from this. It is best done with a trained therapist who can loving guide you through the complexities of the family dynamics.
If you have inadvertently done this with a child, it is a good idea to help lift the burden from that child and seek some family counselling to ensure it is done in the most appropriate way for all.
Healing from family secrets IS REAL…it can take time. Good luck on your healing journey.
Epstein, S (2019). 3 Types of family secrets and how they drive families apart. Psychology Today.