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, MAPPDaniel J. Tomasulo, Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP is a graduate of the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania and works as Martin Seligman's assistant instructor there. He is a licensed psychologist specializing in group psychotherapy and psychodrama and is the author of the highly acclaimed Confessions of a Former Child: A Therapist’s Memoir. Visit www.formerchild.com for more information. 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 October 10, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/05/09/cheating-father/