Teen knows her dad is having an affair

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Q: I am a 17 year old girl graduating from high school this year and am the eldest of 4 children. A few months ago I discovered that my father is having an affair with the mother of a boy I have known for a long time and of one of my sister’s best friends. Apparently it has been going on for awhile. When I discovered this I almost threw up. It makes me sick just thinking about it. But i really do not know what to do. If I tell my mom my parents will get divorced and that would just be completely heart breaking. If i tell my dad that I know they will still probably get divorced. I really do not know what to do but because of this I just can not stand my father anymore. He has driven me to hate him. He has driven me to wish i were dead. I sometimes wish that he knew I knew so that I could kill myself to make him feel guilty. He is driving me to depression I just want to kill that skank bitch he is “seeing” . I can not live with him anymore but i can’t do this to my mom. I just don’t know what to do.

A: I don’t blame you for being angry and for feeling betrayed. You have information you shouldn’t have and you don’t want. Holding a secret like this is a terrible position for a kid to be in because it makes you an unwilling participant in the affair. But turning that anger into thoughts of killing yourself or the other woman only adds more unfairness and pain to an already unfair and painful situation.

You need to get yourself out of the middle. You don’t know the whole story — and shouldn’t. Enlist the help of a adult you trust who knows your parents. Your school guidance counselor, a clergyperson if you have one, or a relative you trust might be a good choice. Ask that person to tell your parents what you think you know and how much it upsets you. It’s possible that person can also suggest that they get themselves into marriage counseling so they can figure out what to do with each other and how to protect you kids while they do it.

If your parents divorce, it won’t in any way be your responsibility, regardless of who you tell. Telling isn’t the problem. The breakdown in your parents’ marriage is the problem. I hope they have the courage to do the right thing and get the help they need.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 18 May 2008

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2008). Teen knows her dad is having an affair. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/05/18/teen-knows-her-dad-is-having-an-affair/