I’m sixteen and have a 13 year old brother and nine year old sister. I discovered text messages on my dad’s phone implying he’s cheating on my mother. My parents are pastors, and have an important place of ministry in the country. Hundreds of people look up to them, especially to my dad. My mother has absolutely no idea. No one does. Except me. I used to be very close to my dad. Now I cant look at him or even be in the same room as him. I’m so angry, but that’s not the issue. My question is, what should I do? Do I tell and risk the chance or ruining my family’s life and hundreds of other people who’ve devoted their life to my parent’s ministry. Its much more serious than it sounds, and would have so many consequences. But my mother, she loves my dad so much, and makes me sick to think how she has no clue what’s going on. I need help. Please.
A: At 16 in your country, you have to find an adult who is a stable, trusted friend. Normally I would encourage you to use a clergyperson, but for obvious reasons that isn’t going to be my recommendation. I would also not encourage talking about this with aunts, uncles, grandparents or those adults who might have strong reactions.
The first place I suggest finding a trustworthy adult is school. Talk to a trusted teacher about your feelings. You don’t even have to begin by saying what the issue is, you would only have to say that it is difficult for you to find an adult to talk to about stress you are having about things going on in your home. The teacher is likely to be able to either lend support to you directly, or help you find someone who can.
About Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPPDan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.
Tomasulo, D. (2012). Cheating Father. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 24, 2016, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/05/09/cheating-father/