DEAR ABBY: My father went to prison five years ago, and my mother has been taking care of my brother and sister. (I'm older and out of the house.)
I recently came across some shocking information. Mom has been going on dates with a clergy member who has been sending her text messages saying things like "I can't stop thinking about you," etc. I also found out she has a profile on a couple of Internet dating sites and has been coming home later than usual after going out "for drinks with friends" after work. When I confronted her, she first denied it, then got caught in a lie. She refuses to accept responsibility, insisting "it wasn't a date," although this man expressed romantic feelings for her.
My father knows nothing about this while he languishes in a cell for what could be another five or six years. Should I tell him? I also do not know if I should confront this clergyman because I find his actions despicable.
How can I explain to my mother that what she's doing is wrong? When I try to talk to her in a mature way, she says things like, "I can't hear you!" Any advice you can offer would be appreciated. -- DISILLUSIONED SON IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR DISILLUSIONED: Please don't waste your breath trying to shame your mother into good behavior because it won't work. She knows what she's doing is wrong, and that's why she is practicing "selective deafness" when you try to reason with her.
As tempting as it might be, I see absolutely nothing to be gained by telling your father. The news will only make him unhappier and more frustrated than he already is.
If you would like to say a few well-chosen words to the clergyman who is dallying with your mother, you're certainly within your rights to do so. While you're at it, let him know you have proof. That ought to dampen his ardor.
As for the pain you are feeling, it's natural that you would ache inside. So please consider having some sessions with a licensed psychotherapist who can listen, guide you and help you make sure that this doesn't have an impact on your future relationships with women. Trust me, it will help.