Minor's heartache over parent's infidelity
I AM 16 years old and I hope you can help me.
I saw my father in a mall with another woman. I think I know who the woman is, because I have seen her where my father works.
They were holding hands and giving each other kisses. I followed them for a while, and was disgusted.
Then I managed to get on to his computer one evening when he was out.
It looks as if he is having many affairs because he is e-mailing many women and telling them how beautiful they are and that he is in love with them.
I am disgusted with him and I don't know what to do with the information I have.
I haven't told a soul because I am so ashamed of him. I don't know whether to confront him or not.
I don't understand it because I thought my parents were happily married.
They seem to love each other so much. They sometimes fight, but it never seems to be serious.
This happens when he is late from work, which I think is probably when he is with one of his girlfriends.
My mother is such an amazing woman. She is beautiful and successful, so why is he doing this?
I haven't been myself since I found all this out.
He always asks what is wrong because we were so close, but now I hate him.
I will never forgive him. He will destroy our family with his stupid, selfish behaviour.
I am in Matric this year and this has really affected my studies.
I feel depressed all the time and I find it hard to concentrate. Should I speak to my father? I am not sure I have the courage to do so.
Please, please help me. - Anonymous, by e-mail
I am so sorry that you are going through this on your own.
I can only imagine how painful this must be for you. There are some questions you need to think about before you do anything.
What do you want to achieve by speaking to either of your parents?
What do you want to tell your father and what do you want him to tell you?
Are you going to tell him how this situation has affected your life?
Once you have thought about this you have to decide how you want to confront him. There are many ways of doing so.
You could write him a letter or an e-mail.
You could ask a trusted relative to speak to him on your behalf or you could speak to him on the phone.
These are easier choices than facing him directly. The problem is, if you choose the easier way you will perhaps not get the outcome you are looking for.
Facing him is obviously much harder, but you will be able to explain your point of view and fears about what could happen in your family.
How will he react?
He will be embarrassed, shocked and angry that you have gone through his computer without his permission. I am sure you still love your father, it is his behaviour that has angered you and he needs to know that.
It is not up to you to tell your mother anything. It is up to your father.
Children often put their parents on pedestals, thinking they can do no wrong. The truth is that parents are just people who make mistakes and mess up in life sometimes.
Don't threaten your father, just explain how important your family is to you and how this situation has affected you. Ask him to sort it out the best way he can.
Sometimes it is difficult to understand the relationship that our parents have. There is a history between them, most of which the children will never know.
Once you have discussed this with your father it is between him and your mother and is out of your hands.
This is such a difficult situation for you to handle on your own, so I urge you to confide in a trusted friend or elder.
I sincerely wish you well for the future.