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john65pennington's avatar

Will a child, from a family of cheaters, also be a cheater?

Asked by john65pennington (29253points) February 9th, 2011

Is it in a persons DNA to be a cheater of their spouse, if its been a family trait for years? A friend of mine is in this position. Question: if their mother or father cheated on each other, will their children grow up to also be cheaters?

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16 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Not necessarily. Once they have lived with the pain of cheating tearing up the family, they may very well become determined not to cheat.

choreplay's avatar

I am an example. I came from a family where my father was and a number of my brothers. But, I did react to this. I determined to go in the other direction and not be like my father or brothers. I’m one of the only ones in my family to still be happily married. But I will say that some of my brothers followed suit.

Kardamom's avatar

Not necessarily, but if the child sees that the cheater benefited from the cheating, then it will be much easier to go down that same route when the going gets tough.

For example, if the father cheated, left the mother but ended up with a hot young wife and he was happy, then that would make cheating appear to be a good deal. Or if one of the parents cheated and no one in the family gave the cheater any grief or negative consequences, then that too would appear to be a pretty good deal for the cheater. Another example, which is probably more common is if one of the parents cheats, then ends up marrying that person and the new spouse becomes a good step-parent (that the child loves) then once again, the cheating appears to be beneficial.

Even if the parental cheater has a rough time and ends up unhappy or financially drained, just the fact that a child saw the parent cheating, can somehow justify it. If the parent does it, then it must be ok (or not that bad). A child can learn the “easy way out” by watching a parent cheat.

And females, are more likely to pick men that will cheat on them. At least that has been the experience with some of my female friends. Those that had fathers that cheated, have often ended up with boyfriends and husbands who cheated on them.

The odds just make it easier for offspring of cheaters to cheat unless they take specific actions to NOT cheat. Like going to pre-marital counseling and simply vowing to themselves that they will exit their current relationship before engaging in a relationship with anyone else. Plus in today’s world, lots of cheaters, especially famous ones, are idolized and looked up to and considered great ladies men. They are rarely shunned or punished. Cheating is easy.

john65pennington's avatar

Season of Fall, so you are the lowest per centage and the extreme in your family? Does this mean you are the exception?

john65pennington's avatar

Kardamom, you give a great answer and several scenerios for the good and the bad of a cheater. I will attempt to explain your answer to my friend. I sure my friend will not understand your thinking, since my friend is directly involved with a situation and maybe you are not. thanks.

choreplay's avatar

50% Split down the middle. I think some of brothers reacted the same way I did. My father cheated on my mother, but my mother was never with anyone else for the remainder of her life (24 years of marriage and 38 years after divorce), and she was an attracive women.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Fact from fiction, truth from diction. I don’t believe cheating is ”in the blood” and one is helpless to do anything about it. Children learn most of what they know from their parents. Especially in the years be fore they become teens. If the parents or one parent did not accentuate how Boorish and bad cheating is then the child may come to not see it as bad as it is. Like selling or using drugs, if the parents were dealing the kid may see it as normal fare for his/her family. If the parents had a logical and healthy plan in dealing with the cheating the child will more than likely take the parent’s view. Many kids do not grow up being scared of big dogs if they have not been attacked, their fear of big dogs usually come from the fact their parents fear big dogs and they learn big dogs are a thing to fear. I think they will learn for a greater part if cheating is just apart of relationships or something to be seriously addressed.

woodcutter's avatar

Sometimes if the cheater has being deceptive as a part of their personality, they will also be dishonest in other areas of their life, areas that are more out in the open for kids to see. Even simple cheating like stealing cable as part of their portfolio of dishonesty. If kids see it working to their advantage it could catch on. If the cheating parent is a “hit it and quit it” cheater it might not do as much damage to kid’s ideas of sincerity. If the parents cheat as a matter of fact chances are the family dynamic is screwed making kids think it’s ok to cheat and lie which are pretty much the same thing.

Likeradar's avatar

I think a child of cheaters (provided he or she is aware of the cheating) may be more likely to cheat because there hasn’t been a close model of a secure relationship going through normal ups and downs in a way that is good for the relationship.
Children who see their parents maintain open and honest communication and behaviors know what that looks like and may be more prepared to act it out in their own relationships.
The “in the DNA” thing is malarkey.

Kardamom's avatar

@john65pennington Maybe another way to put it to your friend is that there is no scientific evidence that says that cheating is in the blood or the DNA, but back in the cave days, males were programmed to “mate” with as many females as possible to ensure the continuation of their genes. So in a way, males are not really programmed to be monogamous. But in this day and age where we live in a society that has certain rules and expectations of couples being monagamous (because it’s not good for society or children or whatever) we are certainly “taught” to be monogamous.

But because humans are animals, cheating will likely always be a temptation. And cheating is much easier than resisting the urge to cheat. Does that make sense? That doesn’t make cheating right (in our society). I think people have to make a very conscious decision not to cheat and to have some of their own reasons for why cheating is not good, or detrimental, or not useful. If they can’t really come up with any reasons for why cheating is bad (in their own terms) then it just makes cheating seem desirable, and it’s just so easy to cheat.

rooeytoo's avatar

I don’t think it is DNA but I think often the power of example will lead a child in a specific direction. I always believed when I was young that if you watched the way a boy’s father treats his mother, it will give you a good indication of what you could expect in a relationship with that boy. It always seemed to be true.

Pattijo's avatar

If a child has grown up with knowing there has been cheating going on and he/she see’s and feels the pain in causes , he/she is likely not to follow in those steps

GTL222's avatar

more than likely they will, they see there family cheating they see that nothing bad happenes out of it that there family doesnt get hurt so they see its ohkay to do it.

choreplay's avatar

@GTL222, I was in one of those families, was the youngest child and I had completely the opposite experience that you described.

GTL222's avatar

not everybody is in that situation, more than 90% of younger people that are in a family like that turn out just like there parents, people with hearts that actually care about people feelings turn out different, obviously your a good example if you say you turned out different.

lonelydragon's avatar

It probably increases the likelihood of that happening, but for environmental reasons, not genetic ones. Cheating will probably feel more “natural” to them because they’ve seen their parents modeling that behavior. However, children of unfaithful parents also have one powerful weapon at their disposal—self-awareness. Since they are aware of the problem, they can work harder to avoid cheating.

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