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Cheating Mother?

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My mother’s main principle in life is honesty. She taught my sisters and I to be loyal and always honest. My respect for her has dropped drastically since I discovered her affair with my sister’s sports coach. Through messages, they send nude images and sext constantly, to the point where she refuses to go anywhere without her phone because she fears someone will catch her, or because their affair has completely taken all her interest. I was sitting on the couch a couple months ago, with my phone beside me, coincidentally beside my mothers. It buzzed, and believing that it was mine (we both have white iPhones), I pressed the home button to view the text message. It was an explicit picture of his genitals, with a dirty caption and hundreds of winky faces. It was most definitely NOT my dad. Since then, I have spoken to one friend about it, telling her everything I felt since I couldn’t tell any of my counsellors at school (both of them are very close with my dad) or my sisters. The affair has progressed, I believe, because I discovered my mother has a hotel booked under her name every weekend in our city. Why would she need a hotel in the same city she lives in?

Throughout the past couple months, I have been stressed with school and extracurricular activities, but my mothers infidelity has never left my mind. I thought that maybe she was sending images of herself to this man because my father was working often (to keep our family together with a roof over our heads) and maybe she was just striving for the teenage excitement of giving and receiving nudes. However, earlier this morning I was cooking in the kitchen when her phone buzzed, and, believing it was mine, I opened it. “Cant wait for our ‘meeting’ on Thursday. So excited to see you naked” it said. As I hid my anger and sadness, my mother walked into the kitchen, took her phone, sat on the couch, and declared that she would not be home Thursday night because she had a meeting. It became clear that she wasn’t just TALKING about cheating, but was genuinely going to. Now, as I am 16 years old and daughter to a hard working man, I am not sure what to do with the knowledge I have. What should I do? (age 16, from Canada)

Cheating Mother?

Answered by on -


I’m sorry that you are in this painful position and have seen these shocking images and messages. Sometimes we get information that we would rather not have, but once you know it, you can’t go back to not knowing it. I’m also sorry that you feel that your mother is being dishonest.

However, marriages are complicated and your parents may have agreements that you are unaware of and don’t need to be involved with. In other words, as painful as this is for you, your parent’s marriage is not your responsibility. They need to work through their own issues and you need to focus on being a teenager. But in order for you to disentangle yourself from the situation, I think it would be best to let your mom know that you have observed some of her private messages and have your suspicions as to what is going on.

You can let her know how upsetting this has been for you and that you hope she and your father can work through this together. If you can’t find the courage to speak to your mom directly about what you have discovered, I would suggest that you first confide in a trusted adult, possibly an aunt, grandparent or adult family friend. For one, it will relieve some of your stress because you won’t be carrying this burden alone, and second, hopefully this person will have some insight on how best to handle the situation because they know your parents.

Unfortunately, affairs are fairly common these days and committed relationships can change over time. Some couples are able to work through their challenges and remain together, others cannot. Either way, I’m sure your parents love you very much and would not want you to be hurt. If your mother is having an affair, I hope that someday you find a way to forgive her so that you can be close again. I’m really sorry that you are going through this and hope that there is a peaceful resolution.

All the best,

Dr. Holly Counts

Cheating Mother?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Holly Counts, Psy.D.

Dr. Holly Counts is a licensed Clinical Psychologist. She utilizes a mind, body and spirit approach to healing. Dr. Counts received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Wright State University and her Masters and Doctoral degrees in Clinical Psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Counts has worked in a variety of settings and has specialized in trauma and abuse, relationship issues, health psychology, women’s issues, adolescence, GLBT, life transitions and grief counseling. She has specialty training in guided imagery, EMDR, EFT, hypnosis and using intuition to heal. Her current passion involves integrating holistic and alternative approaches to health and healing with psychology.

APA Reference
Counts, H. (2018). Cheating Mother?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 29 Sep 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.