DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently discovered my dad is cheating on my mom. He’s a middle school math teacher at my old school, and my mom is a stay-at-home mom. I was driving down a street I usually take to work, which is a couple of miles from my house, and I stopped at a red light. As I turned my head, I saw my dad in the car with another middle school teacher.
I thought maybe they were running an errand together, so I called my dad. He answered, and I said, “Hey, Dad, where are you right now?” He said, “I’m still at school working late.” I yelled from my car and he looked at me, shocked, and I drove off crying because I knew what it meant.
I have to tell my mom; it’s not fair to her, but I don’t want to be the reason they break things off. How do I ever look at my dad the same? How do I comfort my mom during this time? -- Sad Daughter, Miami
DEAR SAD DAUGHTER: I’m so sorry you had to see this. Before talking to your mother, you should have a talk with your father. Tell him how upset you are that he lied to you. Explain that it looks like he is cheating on your mom with that other teacher, and you are devastated. Ask him if he plans on leaving your family. Put him on the spot, and ask him how he intends to handle the situation.
Then, tell him that you are going to tell your mother. Tell him you hope he will be able to figure out how to save your family, because you love him and your mom very much, but you have to tell her what you saw.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have an alcohol problem. I have for a while. I drink when I wake up and throughout the day. If I don’t, I feel terrible. It’s the only way I can get myself to function. A lot of the time, I wake up forgetting what I did the day before, but my daughter doesn’t hesitate to remind me. I can see the disappointment in her eyes when she looks at me, and it hurts me to see how much she hates me. Ever since her father left, I’ve been a mess. I started going out more and kept showing up late to work, and eventually I lost my job. My daughter takes care of me and all the money issues; things aren’t supposed to be that way. I should be taking care of her.
I decided I want to go to rehab, but my relationship with my daughter is what I’m worried about. Do you think I can make things right with her once I’m sober? Do you think she’ll forgive me for everything I’ve put her through? -- Bad Drunk, Seattle
DEAR BAD DRUNK: You have taken the first step and admitted your problem. Now you must get help. You need to find a detox facility that will help you to get sober, or go to Alcoholics Anonymous. Do this immediately. You won’t have a chance at your daughter’s forgiveness until you are deserving of it. Get clean first. You can do it!
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)