"I just found out my dad is cheating on my mom and I'm not sure what to do"

Black and white portrait of charming African American female in the coat leaning against a mirror wall; the greyscale shot of a cute black teenage girl sitting on the bench of an underground station
Black and white portrait of charming African American female in the coat leaning against a mirror wall; the greyscale shot of a cute black teenage girl sitting on the bench of an underground station

This 22-year-old can relate.

A few weeks ago Teni* discovered that her father is being unfaithful to her mother who he's been married to for nearly 30 years. While she feels like she owes it to her mom to be honest about what she has just found out, she's terrified about what might happen to her family.

Read Teni's story below.

"A few weeks ago while helping her dad update his software, a message from someone saved as baby popped up from his Whatsapp. It wasn't the name that caught my attention, it was the actual message.

It read: "Hey love can't wait to go away with you next week. Have you told your wife that you'd be away for "business"? Can't wait until we no longer have to do all this creeping around. Love Coco".

READ MORE: 12 signs of cheating that might surprise you

At first I couldn't believe what I just read so I tried in every way to make sense of it. Before long I found myself reading messages between the two that dated back to almost three years ago. Most of them about how my dad was planning on leaving my mom and how horrible she is as a wife.

At this point I felt physically sick and thought things couldn't be any worse.

Until I came across some pictures of the two of them that were so inappropriate it made me wish I hadn't looked.

I've known about this for weeks now and I have no clue what to do next, at the same time I just want the secret to come out so my mind can finally be at ease. I've also had sleepless nights and am unable to look my dad the same.

I've become really withdrawn and sullen.

READ MORE: 71% of married women who cheat have sex on the first date

Pretending everything's fine is becoming too much but I don't want to break up my family, in a way I kind of wish that I hadn't gone snooping. I'm also worried about my little brother who's extremely close with my dad.

What if this doesn't only destroy my parents relationship, but the relationship they have with us, their kids? Honestly, I don't know what I should do next".

A situation this serious calls for some expert advice and so we got in touch with relationship experts Shelley Lewin and Paula Quinsee who both shared some valuable advice for Teni.

Paula says Teni has two options, which both have dire consequences, but essentially need to be made in order to move forward from this unfortunate situation.

"In this instance she has two choices, she can confront her father about the situation and hold him accountable to do the right thing by ending the affair and confessing to his wife and seeking the necessary help to repair their marriage.

"Or should he not be willing to do this, she has a choice as to whether she wants to tell her mother as it is going to cause pain in finding out her husband is cheating on her, however, her mother may feel more betrayed should she find out that her daughter knew all along about the affair."

READ MORE: How to tell your partner you cheated

Paula also says that it's important for Teni to know that should the family be broken up as a result of her speaking up about the infidelity, it's completely not her fault.

"At the end of the day the parents have a choice to repair their marriage or look to end the marriage – this will have an impact on the whole family and key here is that the daughter does not blame herself for breaking up the family. It was not her doing that her father was having an affair – there was something wrong in the marriage that led to the affair taking place and this is the real issue that needs to be addressed.

"I would recommend that the whole family go for some counselling to help them work through the pain and hurt and get tools to help them rebuild their family life irrespective of whether they stay together or look to separate," she concludes. 

While Shelley agrees with Paula's sentiments that Teni shouldn't feel guilty or try to take responsibility for her father's mistakes, she advises Teni to tell her dad to confess his wrongdoing.

READ MORE: Why do people cheat?

"As an adult, Teni's dad made a bad choice that has potentially terrible consequences on his whole family. It is time for him to face those consequences and to take responsibility for them. This is not Teni's responsibility; it is not a secret she can keep inside without it costing her emotional, mental and even physical health. 

If her father is involved in activities that hurt his wife (and family), he needs to know that you know and that she is not willing to stay quiet about it," says Shelley.

"She should make it clear to him that he has a deadline by which he must reveal the truth to her mom otherwise she will tell her (and she should if he doesn’t). This gives him the opportunity to be the adult, to come clean, to end the affair and to make amends for his poor choices," she adds.

With any luck, this gives Teni the courage to deal with this difficult situation.

*Not her real name

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