Dear McKoy: My mother and father have been married for over twenty years. Together they have two girls, me and my 16-year-old sister. I am 19. Around November last year, my sister confided in me and told me that our father has another woman and she lives in the community. My sister is a more sociable person than me so she has a lot of friends in the area. She said he was bringing her home once and stopped at a house where a girl who seemed to be a little older than me came and collected a bag with groceries from him. When she described the girl and the house to me, I immediately knew who she was, we went to the same high school, however, she graduated three years before me. She is known to be promiscuous and people talk about her a lot.
After my sister told me, I was so upset and I asked him about it. He admitted it to me and promised he would stop. I really love both my parents and I don’t want our family to break up so I promised him I won’t say anything to her. However, he still continues to be with this girl up to now. The worst part of it is that he is now verbally abusive to my mother. I have never seen this side of him before.
His infidelity is destroying the family and makes living in the house miserable. I feel like I’m betraying my mother by knowing this secret and keeping it from her. What do you think I should do?
Dear Tonya: I am so sorry that you have to be going through such a predicament at this young age. I would simply advise you to keep out of it if it were a family friend rather than your parents, but not only is it putting you in an impossible situation, but your father is mistreating your mother in addition to the adultery. It’s risky to withhold it from her. In the long run, she will find out because he seems to be quite invested in this other woman. Are you going to tell your mother you knew about it all along? It’s difficult enough to lose your trust in your husband, let alone having to deal with the knowledge that your entire family has betrayed you. I understand it’s not your fault, but it’s your problem now, so I’d address it head-on.
You must inform her. However, once you’ve told her, you must be able to respect her decision about her marriage and herself. If for no other reason, she needs to know so that she can protect her health. If your father is irresponsible and is having sex with promiscuous women, your mother is at risk of catching a fatal or incurable STD from him, which would forever alter the path of her life and, in the worst-case scenario, take her away from you too soon.