Ask Angel – Dad’s Not So Secret “Hobby”

Let’s say you have a completely normal family (not that I’m assuming that your family isn’t normal of course but this is hypothetical.) In your very average family, your mom comes home by 3:30pm and your dad goes to work and comes back by 5pm. Everyday this is the same routine. Nothing out of the ordinary, right? Well, I thought the same thing until I found out the truth. A few days ago, my hockey practice ended early. Because my mom wasn’t coming home until later in the evening, I had to take the bus home. And when I came into my house – I was met by the worst surprise of my life. My father was sitting in the coach with another woman laughing their heads off. And then he kisses her. I was so stunned that I didn’t even get to see the woman’s face. I haven’t told him or my mom what I saw, but I managed to keep my interactions with him minimal… I have no idea what to do. Should I tell my younger brother? My mom? Should I confront my dad? Threaten him? I’m so lost. I’m imploding.

– The Child

Dear The Child,

Hey there, thank you so much for reaching out. I recognize that this is a very unfortunate situation that you’re in, and I’m sorry that you got stuck in it. Of course, it’s heartbreaking to witness something so devastating, but you need to be mindful of what you decide to do, as there are many people who are going to be hurt by this news. 

I think the first thing you should do is confront your father. I know you said you haven’t interacted with him much lately, which is understandable, but you need to tell him what you saw and let him know that he has to tell your mom. If you feel comfortable and are willing to hear him out, you can try asking him questions just to get a better idea of the situation- not because it’ll change what he did, but so that you won’t be wondering “why” when you look back on this event. I’d like to emphasize that you’ll have to stay calm because it won’t do you any good to get upset or angry- you won’t be able to think straight. This is quite emotionally fraught, so I think approaching this conversation with facts and a cautious mindset will serve you well.

It isn’t a good idea to tell your mother because you don’t want to get in the middle of something so serious. It isn’t your place to say anything to her right away, though she does deserve to know. You can try telling your dad that he needs to tell her soon, but if he doesn’t tell her after a certain time, that’s when you should step in. At that point, you should sit her down, talk to her, and tell her exactly what you saw and why you didn’t tell her sooner. It’s especially important to tell her why you didn’t say anything, because otherwise, she may think you were trying to cover up for your dad.

Finally, I think you should leave your younger brother out of it- he might not be old enough to grasp the situation thoroughly and it could just stress him out. It’s bad enough that you’re involved, so it’s better to make sure that he doesn’t get involved as well. In all honesty, I expect it’ll be hard for you both, so after your father informs your brother, I suggest spending time together and making sure that he’s okay- but don’t put too much pressure on yourself either, because you are in the same boat as him. You should try to be there for each other and take care of one another during this tough time. Find out if there’s anyone you can reach out to, perhaps a friend or adult, but I would like to suggest that you avoid involving another family member. Rest assured, you won’t go through this alone.

This isn’t an easy situation in the slightest- it’s nerve-wracking, upsetting, and just plain terrible. Once again, I’m really sorry you’re going through this. You need to make sure that you confront your father about what happened and listen to him so you can understand his perspective, then let him know that he needs to tell your mom what happened. Make sure that you take some time to process everything, and maybe consider talking to someone you trust. I hope everything works out for you and things become more manageable.

Signed, 

Angel