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Family Betrayal – Rebuilding after a Team Setback




For many years, I have had the privilege to help many troubled families.  For most people who present with significant emotional problems,  their successful long-term outcomes for treatment rely heavily on the support of their families.  However, where the families are already deeply entangled in their own toxic life habits,  progress and healing become either delayed or derailed. 

It is through our family that we learn how to negotiate our lives and how to thrive as individuals, how to become meaningful contributors to our society. It is where we learn and appreciate the values which we will apply to our own relationships as we become responsible adults in the world.  Patterns of maladaptive behaviors and dysfunctional strategies, just as healthy functional strategies are adopted through our families of origin. In order to provide best for our future, there needs to be an emphasis on where life training begins; that is in the home.

 The family is the backbone of our society and plays a  fundamental role in the direction of where our world is heading. What we teach our children through our values and actions will have a great impact on how they will live their life. This includes what values we choose to tolerate and what we determine to enforce.  We acquire a family skillset that governs how we resolve conflicts, tolerate differences and find mutually compatible ways to get along. As parents, it is up to us to model best what we teach.

That being said, I recognize that many dynamics occur in families where the family members often feel lost. People face conflicts and trials and just want guidance and assurance to break reckless cycles. Yet, many folks I have worked with know their burden is great but feel there are not enough available resources in expense or practical time to get the professional help they need. Each day that passes, one can feel more and more helpless and less hopeful for restoring peace and unity in their family as they had always wanted. They find themselves weary in battle,  just getting through one crisis at a time, believing a happy home life will not be their lot at the end of the struggle. They battle with depression while behaving as if they are strong for their children. In the quiet dark hours at the end of the day, they isolate themselves to cry silently from the days’ emotional toll.  

Trust is the fabric of family

Where did our family slide off track?  After distilling the matter to its core issue, it has more to do with trust.  Trust is essential to relationships but it is especially vital for cementing family members together over the long haul. Kids will be kids. Sisters, brothers, youngest, oldest..the differences are great.  Arguments and fights are commonplace in families. But when trust is eventually instilled and takes hold, it becomes the bridgework of communication and welcomes open dialogue life-long.  Shakespeare stated it well in making this distinction. 

When the line of trust is breached, it leaves the sting of betrayal.  Make no mistake, when betrayal occurs the whole family is impacted.   Acts of betrayal are never just among a few members of the family.  It is an offense to the whole track of trust that connects the whole family to each other.  It doesn’t stop there. If there is an affair, it has a malignant spread through both parties involved in the affair  This sprouts doubts and warps the sense of “rightness, justice, honesty and trust” along with its devastating path.  Children under the care of a loving parent find themselves wrestling with the discovered lies where truth was believed esteemed.  This disease drops seeds of doubt and secrecy into the corners of young minds, giving place to jealousy, doubts, and pleasure-seeking priorities.  The parental authority regarded as a compass of clear direction loses traction.  Authority is compromised by hypocrisy.  Then the guilt-ridden parent finds their ‘right to rule’ is overthrown by a child practicing the role for adulthood. When an authoritative posture is decayed, it takes a lot more effort to reclaim.   This is where problem-solving can get complicated for many people.  They know that trust is a lifeline in holding families together and many concerns surround the hardships on a family level. Having enough objectivity to confront threats outside the family are far easier than the addressing issues that threaten from the inside.

This brings us to my motivation for this Guide. I hope it will help those who are uncertain how to deal with betrayal in the .  There are many examples of betrayal.  It may be unfaithfulness of a spouse, having a member dealing with substance or even a teen breaking important house rules established with parents.  I wrote this paper as a simple metaphorical scheme, that portrays each family member as team players who share the same goal of achieving a winning season for the family team.  Strategies and suggestions are provided.     Greg






Guidelines for dealing with Betrayal  in the Family

(The Playbook or a winning team)

Litmus Test 

The best litmus test for any “good” relationship can be estimated by a simple rule of thumb.  “When I am around my [friend/peer/spouse], do I feel better about myself?”  In other words, “do I like ME more?”; “Am I a better person?”; “Am I challenged to become a better, healthier, responsible, loyal, and am I more Spiritually aligned?”  

Healthy relationships are not an endpoint; a stopping point or a place to park your home family life.  In fact, it is never fully grasped.  It is a lifetime endeavor that begins in the very beginning of a family. 



A Family Dynamic is much like a baseball team



Family Team

Successful families require teamwork.   Each family member is a player on your family team.  As a team member, everyone in the family is provided their chance at the plate and in the field.  Everyone needs to be taught the basics of the game.  Some players may be better at swinging the bat, some are better at catching the ball.  Even though one player may be skilled for particular activities, it is important that they appreciate the differences.  Each player needs to follow the same rules of the game as everyone else and will need guidance in developing strengths in the variety of available positions. Otherwise, you can not be certain a player will be where he is needed when the outfielder is not available and there is catch to be made.  Each player must feel confident that all members esteem and value the rules of the game the same as well.  Imagine tossing a ball to the 3rd base player for a triple play, only to find he had left to watch his favorite TV program at home; letting his team down. Learning about player strengths and becoming confident that each player will fill their assigned position consistently teaches responsibility.


Will there be mistakes made? Will there be dropped catches and foul balls? Yes.  But team members have a vital role to play when this happens. A winning team learns to encourage each other. They rally in support of their valuable team players and encourage ways to overcome shortcomings.  Team support for mistakes or imperfections lets kids know the day they will certainly drop the ball, they can expect the same.  It also provides an important message that mistakes are going to happen to everyone without any bearing on one’s character.  By helping to improve each other’s skills, members are viewed as valuable part of their winning team.  Providing quality team support can only be possible for those that are actively participating in the game; those identified with the team; those focused on the winning the same game and those sharing the same value in winning for the team.  



Keeping Family Rules

Each team member needs to learn and keep the rules of the game. They will trust that other members will also do the same.  This is how the game remains fair. If the same rules are not followed or the same game is not played with the team, it challenges the confidence of the team.    When a player is permitted to only participate when they wish, it compromises the unity of the team.  Even the lack of true participation sets a similar tone for other players.  If poor sportsmanship is displayed without being challenged by others on the playing field, it diminishes the value of rules for all players.  It is important, however, to make certain that conflicts are not arising from the lack of role clarity. It is good to remind players how essential it is to protect the trust extended to them from other players on the team.  A player will sometimes over exaggerate their role to the team. Keeping praise on the team skill will encourage team appreciation.  When team members do not have a clear role on the team, they are more likely to attribute success to others instead of identifying their contribution to team success. 


If players challenge the game or criticize their team members, it needs to be addressed openly.  Just as when compromise to the family unit is tolerated, it diminishes all members of the family, as a whole team. Disrespect not called out, can only rob the trust of each member and diminishes the responsibly they have with each other.  Uninvolved family members, as volunteer players on the team, will result in some players not consistently showing up for practice, nor playing assigned positions.  Remaining “on the field” or in the family without holding a responsible role for the team, will only serve to divide the efforts of all family members. The decision to keep a wayward or unfaithful family member in the same household needs to be balanced against the risk of dividing the unity of the family as a whole, which derails the team in achieving a responsible and united front together.


Family member contributions

It is the right of all players to expect to be a winning team.  But it is only accomplished by taking honest inventories of what skills, strengths, and weaknesses are possessed by each player. When the players understand & accept their assessment, they can acknowledge what shared resources they all possess at their disposal for the team when they meet the various challenges on the field. In knowing their strengths and weak areas, they will also be best postured to address a wider array of more challenging opponents to make their team more successful.  

Families are not interested in cutting players. But they need to know, “Are you in the game?” Training will always be provided for those that are participating in the game. To be really in the game, attending practice is essential.  Team communication is emphasized and encouraged  The players on your team need to see the efforts of ech other in becoming champions.

Keeping unwarranted Relationships on the Side

You can only play for one team at a time.  You can only win when you only encourage other players on your own team.  If you desire to work behind the scenes and still share the spotlight of success, you have already lost the goal of the game. Your team will often lose games when players are not working together.  But if you strive for unity in your team, there will be more wins than losses.

Those who lack the “team spirit”  are often easy to recognize.  Look for the disconnected or noisy, disorganized persons that wear different Jerseys.  When they are identified, many people wonder why they were kept on the team.  They do not really care to be associated with other members of their own team.  Their infrequent presence introduces diversity in the group.  In some cases, these players don’t even use the right gear when they show up for their team.  They are more interested in playing on their own terms.  Occasionally showing up to play on their team result in frequent conflicts over which positions they are assigned.


Do not be afraid to confront family members

When team members do not challenge the deviant actions of their own team members, the entire team is compromised. They can not expect to play in the big leagues.  In such disorganized teams, their young players later grow up and eventually apply to be part of a different team in some other state.  Disappointed family members will begin to seek inclusion in other social circles and develop other relationships to define themselves. Unfortunately, disconnected team players lack a common regard of how teams work together; how players help each other in challenges where they are not equipped to succeed.   Since they neither have an optimal regard for teamwork, they can remain irresponsible or feel compromised in other areas of life. They will be less likely to make effort in building trust and earning respect with others for a common purpose.  They run the risk of repeated failures in meeting life’s challenges.  They will not be afforded the chance to acquire a healthy self-regard that is achieved through a shared purpose for worthy goals as they would on a team.



Players that get cut, like an unfaithful and unrepentant spouse, tend to have trouble in other relationships.  Often the unfaithful will resort to blaming others, like a disgruntled player complaining about not being picked fairly for the team.   Such uncommitted players will unlikely get the chance to join a real winning team because they never learned to appreciate the game.  They often consider practice too difficult or claim that the team could not change an established schedule to their liking.  They will always find excuses. Even though they may still find their place somewhere; even if it was just a neighborhood league, until they can prove their value as a team player, it is unlikely they can ever play for the big leagues.  Instead of celebrating their part in a championship team, they may be rediscovered on life’s peripheral edge, wandering the field and sharing their perspective of the game with other critical spectators who have lost their way too.




How to Play to win as a team.



Common Rules for players

(only for players who wish to be winners in the game).


Honest Assessments of Game Statistics.

-Are you satisfied with the team achievements?

-Are you a better person, happier, content with who you are on your team?

-If not, how can you make changes?


  ( if you do what you have always done, you will get what you always got).


A true team player, wishing to remain on the team, who shares the same ambition for becoming a winning team, will acknowledge their contributions to success and failure for their team. Furthermore, any player who really wishes to remain on the team will do their part to maximize the success of their team members.  Otherwise, they are only opposing success for every player.


How can I forgive someone that betrayed me or the family?


If you are still angry over the willful wrongs by a trusted friend,

You are not past the necessary repair.  There exists some hope for the mending of injury.


Apathy toward injury is a serious sign of doom.  Acting on apathy means decay is already happening.  (Only a ‘great physician’ can bring dead bones to life).


Any player that chooses to play on another team at the same time, betrays team members (of both teams).  The player that has wronged his team needs to prove to the team of his choosing that he really wants to be on their team and wishes the team to win.  He must let go of any equipment that belongs to other games or materials belonging to members of another team or from other games.


Acceptance on the team is not based on vows and promises, but what one brings to the team which supports the common goal of success for the team members.  The team does not have to accept a wayward player back.  But they can elect to offer tryouts for the misguided player, to see if “winning for the team” is the focus or if he will be best suited in a role as a mascot for somewhere else.


If the team decides to accept a player who is not interested in winning, the members are dictating that they are also not interested in winning.  Such a choice will impact the team effort.  If a former team player reapplies to the betrayed team for membership, the serious applicant makes the needs of the select team their utmost concern.


 You can forgive someone for their injurious acts without trusting them. 

Forgiveness means choosing to not “payback” for the harm received.

However, trust needs to be earned by the one who broke the trust; it is

foolish to trust one who proves themselves untrustworthy.


By Providing a tryout to a known player who abandons his team is an act of mercy by the injured team members. It is not an obligation to offer a second chance for membership.  However, if renewal of membership is offered, it is possible through Team support one can regain a recognized role for the team if team unity is in agreement with all team members.


If Trust is broken, it is the responsibility of the offender to rebuild the trust.   

Trust is earned.  It is not a free gift.  


If a player is injured by his own self-seeking acts of negligence, it impacts the team as a whole. The unity of the team is disrupted and impairs morale; the team will not be optimal due to self-servicing of the undisciplined player.  The team can choose to readily overlook the negligent act which caused the injury of the player, but the team will not be able to remain optimal until the injuries have had ample time to heal and the negligent player evidences a restored capacity to play effectively for the team.


Words of apology are only words until a transformation evidence repentance. Accepting blame for a car accident does not remove dents and scratches;  the damage remains and still requires attention and ample time for adequate repair.


If someone betrays a trust of the family and seeks forgiveness, the attitude and actions of repentance should reflect the true intent and desire for regaining the trust that was broken. Attitudes and actions which tries to share the blame, excuses wrongful actions, creates conditions of compromise or attaches expectations to the others, bargains or threatens those extending mercy, is not providing evidence of intent for true repentance.  


Acceptance of prayer for the renewal of members who have not been reliable or has a history of being untrue to their promises is only offered in the faith that their valued future contributions will only serve the team.  A player seeking renewal of membership must be willing to surrender equipment not serving the team and will not maintain items that belong to others rivals of the team.  Every player must be willing to attend practice, support each other, and even take turns at less desired tasks as washing uniforms for the team.  Public Actions need to always prove the importance of the team to the player.  


Some Guidelines for dealing with broken trust.


*Pray for your family member.

Seek the guidance of a Coach who can assure your success as a team.


*Privilege is linked to responsibility; responsibility is linked to freedom.

The more responsibility evidenced, the more freedom granted..and then the privilege of that freedom begins.  Companions begin at the associate level and progress toward intimate levels of trust and security developments.  A good lover is first a good friend.  You can not cross the level of intimacy without the bridge of trust.  Without the bridge, your destination is not a relationship.  It is to be an instrument of momentary escape only.

Tryouts start with earning acceptance for practice with the team before it means you can share their Jersey.  In order to evaluate a new player for the team, a schedule for assessment, goal setting and review is essential to motivate and fairly judge the contributions that can be provided to the benefit of a team for success.


In order to assure progress in character building, one must first know where they are, then visualize where they wish to be, and explore concrete  & reliable steps that will most likely make the goal achievable. Midpoint evaluations can reinforce success by providing a means to adjust target goals, serve to realign strategies and identify obstacles that compromise effective labors to achieving desired goals.  


*Make clear Goals – the intent of restoring Trust


Identify Goals consistent with the role which would be identified as successful

 -If a husband, what you believe a good husband would normally do for family

 -if a sister, what acts would a kind and thoughtful sister do for a brother

List items that are observable activities or actions which are do-able

State the Category and items of issues which need to be addressed.

(e.g. for Family, for Home, For Leadership..)

Lets Talk- Putting it on the table

State purpose of the criteria

(actions which restore self-value and restore value to the family mutually )



  –Purpose of criteria requested (Importance of changes)

 -Current observations which impair function or hinder progress (what problems)

 -Changes to condition which  evidence sincerity (how to fix)

 -Timeframe for measuring requested changes

 -Objectives that will be used to measure changes (What evidence indicates actions)

 -Schedule for midpoint review (what works, what doesn’t)

 -Alternatives dictated by choice of action (Stay or Go)

 –Examples of Behavioral Criteria

Hygiene (public display of pride for family image)

 routine bathing (daily)

— trim nails


–Oral Care


Health Monitoring (importance of remaining an able and capable member)

– Podiatry Checkup

— Diet maintenance

— general health check-up

— Emotional Guidance therapist.


Respecting shared Home Responsibilities:

 –– being presentable after work

 — Respect home environment with personal effects (shoes outside)

—Clean up after self (Mindful of shared environments)


Church: (Spiritual Leadership and Support)

— Be a spiritual leader: Prioritize church in family leadership

    Takes initiative in preparing family for Church (family schedule)

—Loyalty and sincerity of  Spiritual Values

—Manage life and relationships with Serving, not being served

—Avoid words about harm or criticism of character (toward self or others)

    Cultivate wholesome and proper conversation in dialogue


Sacrificing Personal treasures for Family Treasure

— Unnecessary wants to be surrendered for family needs (home & family expense). 

— Take active role in managing school and family events as a shared responsibility


To all the families who remain in the game,
Wishing you great success!




About Me…..

Business Owner (LifeBank), Doctor (MD), neuroscientist, Medical Officer (D/C), Student of Life

Completed my Medical Studies;   awarded an M.D from the American University of the Caribbean in 1997. A graduate of Mount Vernon Nazarene University; double Major in Psychology(B.A.) and Sociology (B.A.).

Greg E. Williams, MD

The Braindoc's Blog
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