Have you seen Dad's Cheating on Mom Again: A Monologue yet?
By Ruby Wolbromsky, Ph.D.
What do you think Jen is going through? You can almost hear her wondering:
* "What kind of husband is my father?"
* "Is my mother a total jerk or what?"
* "Are my parents going to split?"
* "If they do, what happens to me?"
* " What are my friends going to think?"
* "Are all boys unfaithful like my Dad?"
* "If Dad is seeing other women, how come he and Mom are huggy and mushy?"
* "Why does Dad continue to cheat on Mom?
* "What does that say about their relationship?"
* "What, if anything, should I do about this?"
And in addition to having all these complex thoughts and questions, Jen is also feeling sad about the whole situation and is very angry at both her parents.
Jen thinks her mother is allowing herself to be used. She doesn't understand that her mother is struggling with a difficult dilemma - should she keep her self respect and throw him out, or should she forgive him, because she still seems to love him? After all, she still gets "huggy and mushy" with him, dresses up for him, doesn't throw him out and she herself doesn't leave.
Yes Jen, it's crazy, but that's the way it is for now. It seems that Mom and Dad are in an "addictive, co-dependent relationship" and Mom doesn't have the strength to end it. That means that she's so scared about being alone that she'll do anything to keep your father from leaving. As someone once told me, "Divorce is worse than death." It's not, but the fear of abandonment and going it alone sometimes stops people from doing the healthy thing.
Also, you should know that not all men act the way your father does. I wouldn't want you to think that you can't trust all men because your father cheats on your mother. Yes, what he's doing is wrong but there are men and boys who are loyal, honest and trustworthy.
I want you to know that you seem to be the one person in your family who has her head on straight. Your parents are so caught up in their soap opera relationship that they haven't a clue as to how it's affecting you. Don't be shy - tell them. It wouldn't hurt for them to feel embarrassed. It might knock some sense in their heads. Perhaps, your Mom will decide to kick him out or your Dad will once and for all put an end to his affairs.
I suggest you write each of them a letter and tell them exactly how you feel. Be direct, but remember, all you can do is your part. It's their life and no one can stop them from ruining it. "You can lead a horse to water but you can't force it to drink."
Remember, you probably have a grandparent, neighbor, aunt, teacher, guidance counselor or friend who would be happy to listen. Talk!
Ruby Wolbromsky, PhD, is a psychologist specializing in children and adolescents.