By Aunty Julie
Dear Aunty Julie,
I observed recently that my dad is cheating on my mum with this woman from work. I saw some texts on his phone exchanged with her saying really lovey dovey things, and I’m certain it means he’s cheating.
I have no idea what to do. I cried a lot, but now I’m just trying to think things through. I desperately want to tell someone, but I have no idea who to turn to, and I’m worried that if my dad isn’t cheating (I hope to God that’s the case), he will hate me for thinking he is. But I see no way that he can’t be. I saw those texts, and they say things like “love you”, so he must be cheating. He doesn’t know that I’ve read the texts…
At the same time, I don’t want to be the one who finds him out. It would completely break my mum’s heart. She really loves him, and I don’t know what it would do to my little sister. I just can’t imagine our happy little family ever breaking apart… It makes me cry just to think of that prospect. Why would he do that to us? I don’t know what else to say, just, please help me. I’m really scared.
Angela, Port Harcourt
It sounds like you are feeling a huge range of emotions including shock, sadness, worry and maybe even some anger. These emotions are all normal to have, especially for someone in your situation, and will take some time to process.
First of all, when we learn something very shocking or upsetting as you did, we often straight away start picturing the worst possible outcome. It sounds like you can’t stop thinking about your mum and sister, and your family breaking apart. Try to distract yourself from these thoughts as you can’t predict the future, no matter what you decide to do. You only have control over your own thoughts and actions, not other people’s.
Have a think about talking to your dad about what you saw. You may be very worried about his reaction but if he knows how upset you are he isn’t likely to get angry at you, whether he is or isn’t having an affair.
If you do decide to speak to him, try to choose a time when you are alone together and he is not distracted. It isn’t easy to have these conversations. If you need some help about what to say and how to say it, take a look at the link below. Or how about writing a letter? Letters are a great way to plan what you want to say. Plus, he can read through it alone without you having to worry about his immediate response. It will also give him time to think about how he will respond.
It’s clear you don’t want to be the one that breaks up your family. Remember this is not your fault. Your dad is an adult and responsible for his own actions. If it is an affair, the problem is his actions, not how he was found out. If it wasn’t by you it could have easily been someone else.
While you decide your next step, I really encourage you to think of someone that you trust that you can speak to. It’s easy for your thoughts and feelings to get overwhelming and having someone to talk to is very important. They don’t need to tell your parents about what you talk about unless there is a risk to you or someone else’s safety. I hope this has given you some things to think about and some ideas on what to do next. All the best.