When a parent singles out a child for special privileges and attention, that child is often unaware that the relationship is unhealthy—even incestuous. As adults, these children struggle to feel validated, because while they have not been directly abused, they feel a sense of violation and crossed boundaries—usually done in the name of ‘love’ and ‘caring.’ The parent’s love feels more confining than freeing, more demanding than giving, more intrusive than nurturing. Yet these children suffer from what psychologist Kenneth Adams calls The Silent Seduction—because there is nothing loving or caring about a close parent-child relationship that services the needs of the parent rather than the child.
In this revised and updated 20th anniversary edition of his groundbreaking book Silently Seduced, Dr. Adams explains how ‘feeling close,’ especially with the opposite-sex parent, is not the source of comfort the image suggests, especially when that child is cheated out of a childhood by being a parent’s surrogate partner. He offers a framework to understand this covert incest and its effect on sexuality, intimacy, and relationships, and how victims can begin the process of recovery.