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In other posts I have talked about the trancelike state of consciousness that one inhabits during an affair.
In this altered state links between actions and consequences dissolve; in the euphoric bubble you inhabit you believe you can pursue an illicit relationship and no one will be hurt because you believe that you can control everything and so prevent this from happening.
The older a child is, the more capable he or she is of abstract thinking, so worries about what is going to happen to the family and how their lives will change or who they will lose if there is a divorce can surface.
They may withdraw or act out in an effort to get their parent’s attention, stop the affair, or prevent a divorce.
Adolescents continue to develop their capacity for abstract thinking.
They are highly aware that they are preparing to enter the adult world and therefore questions of values become paramount.
Older children may also regress, but they also have more access to language for what they are thinking and feeling.
They are extremely sensitive to hypocrisy; when a parent’s actions are exposed as opposed to his or her stated values that parent falls off a pedestal.
And when a parent falls off of the pedestal it changes the child’s whole conception of who their family is and thus, their sense of who they are.
The change in their partner’s affect; “you were acting like you were on acid” “you just turned off to me, overnight” was obvious, but the meaning could not yet be expressed.
Children feel these changes too, and for them they have suddenly lost the parent they always knew, someone else has taken their place and this is very frightening.
Children are tuned into the nuances of their parent’s relationships in ways that might be surprising to adults.