M: Joanne recently graduated from college. She also discovered a few months ago that her father is having an affair. He’s already in his 50s. Should she tell her mom about it? It can impact their relationship and the family. It’s difficult to say something that will most likely destroy their family life but I think keeping quiet will make things worse.
DJ: It’s understandable for Joanne to be at a crossroads. Children grow up looking up to parents and it’s hard when they discover in the worst possible way that they are not perfect. It helps to have a sensible adult she trusts and she’s close to, to also help her shed some of the burden she is carrying. Aside from Michelle and I, I hope Joanne has someone else to talk to and help her process what she thinks and feels about the situation.
M: The truth hurts. And telling the truth can sometimes be very difficult as it brings pain not just to the one saying it but also to the one who hears it. To keep the peace and pretend one knows nothing is a safe way to go through life. But will it bring peace of mind? Most likely one’s conscience will not allow it to stay quiet forever. When you see the suffering or the injustice done to another person, you cannot just be a mere bystander and go your merry way. Especially if it involves family.
DJ: My suggestion is quite different, though, Mic. It might be good to consider talking to her dad first. Let him know what she thinks and how she’s feeling about the state of affairs. Pun not intended. I think this situation is extremely personal. I don’t know exactly the quality of their father-daughter relationship. But in my opinion, it’s worth talking to him about. Then she can take it from there whether it’s best to tell her mom or allow her dad to do it or consider other courses of action that are best. That’s why it helps to have a sensible adult she trusts to help her manage her thoughts, emotions and decisions. This is just a one-time response to her email. I believe she needs someone constant to help her through this variable circumstance that can be fluid and dynamic too. Whatever happens, she also has to remember that her relationship with her dad and with her mom is separate from their relationship with each other.
M: Joanne, your mother’s ignorance of the shenanigans of your father is not going to help you, them or your entire family in the long run. As to when you will say it, where, how, that is for you to ponder on. But I believe there should be no doubt as to whether or not you have to tell your mom. Better that it’s you who tell her rather than she hear it from others and later come to find out that you knew all along. Your mother deserves your love and support. And one way to show your love is to tell her so she knows how she can better prepare herself in dealing with this situation.
DJ: It’s ultimately her call. Hopefully she still sees her dad as her father rather than the man who cheated on her mom. Parents are human beings too. They are imperfect and are flawed. I know it’s easier said than done, but I pray for healing, forgiveness and love to reign. Whatever the outcome is, he is still her father and she is still her mom. And hopefully, too, she isn’t weighed by what’s happening to step in and take responsibility for their decisions.