Paren-Teen

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Dear Dr. Darcy:

I am 17 years old. Last week I overheard my parents fighting and my father accused my mother of having an affair. He was terribly hurt and I feel so guilty because I’ve known about the affair. A couple of months ago, I was driving my mother’s car and I got a flat tire. When I went in the trunk to change the tire, I found a bunch of love letters and cards from some guy that were at least a year (maybe more) old. I confronted my mother and told her that if she ever admitted to my father that she was having an affair, I’d never speak to her again. So back to their fight – she denied it. And I think she did that because she’s afraid of losing me. So now I’m responsible for this and I don’t know how to fix it.  What the hell was I thinking?!!!!!!

ANSWER

You were thinking like a kid which is why kids shouldn’t run interference in their parent’s lives.  You were also acting from the perspective of a daughter who wants her parents to remain married and who wanted to protect her father from potentially devastating news. It came from a good place. And now it’s adding to the mess, so let’s extricate you.

Sit your mother down and tell her that you overheard their argument. Let her know that you made a mistake when you imposed a gag order on her. Ask her to please tell your father the truth. Let her know that if she doesn’t, you’ll tell him what you saw in her trunk. The point is, get the hell out of this mess. It isn’t yours to clean up. You're not the parent. You're the teen.

I don’t know what your father will do when your mother confirms his fears, but I do know this: It will be the catalyst for something better happening. They can’t keep doing what they’re doing. Their marriage is based on lies and deceit. That’s like building a house on a foundation of Twinkies. It’s so unstable that their daughter felt she had to do something to save it. It wasn’t sustainable. Whatever results from this will, at the very least, be real – something you can sink your teeth in. So trust that this is all happening for a greater purpose. Come clean and get out.

Writer’s Stats: Female, Straight.