Sons tend to hold their dads in awe. Dads are the first role models for most boys. But what happens when a son who has just made the transition into manhood is hit with the harsh reality that dad is not perfect after all? I have just been in touch with a young man who saw his dad doing the unthinkable and now he’s faced with a dilemma too unbearable for a 19-year-old.
Following is our chat
CP: Hello, Uncle Dave.
David Bondze (DB): Lol!
DB: The ‘Uncle Dave’ bit. Lol!
DB: How are you doing?
CP: Hmmm. Not sure I am fine
DB: Why is that?
CP: My dad …. My girlfriend.
DB: What have they done?
DB: How old are you?
CP: 19 years.
DB: I see. Tell me a little about your girlfriend.
CP: I love her.
CP: That’s basically that.
DB: How long have you two been dating?
CP: Three (3) years, I think
CP: We are both in school.
DB: Where do you school?
DB: And your lady?
DB: Okay! So, how have you two been coping with the distance thing?
CP: We try to cope with it. I visit her often, almost every weekend. We talk a lot on phone, every day.
DB: She loves you?
CP: I’d want to believe so.
DB: That’s great
DB: What’s the problem?
CP: I visited her on campus to take her out. She saw my dad’s car and drew my attention to it.
DB: On campus?
CP: Yes. He was waiting for someone. She wanted us to go and greet him, but I wanted to see what he was doing there, so we waited to surveil him.
DB: Why would you go ‘FBI’ on your Dad?
CP: I don’t know. Maybe my instincts.
DB: I see.
CP: A female student joined his car, and he kissed her on the mouth.
DB: You could see all that from your hiding place?
CP: Not only me; my girlfriend also saw it. She was shocked. It was very embarrassing
DB: Hmmm! What was going through your mind?
CP: I don’t know. But I lost every respect I thought I had for him.
DB: A kiss, sometimes means nothing.
CP: He kissed her on the mouth, Dave. This kiss meant something.
DB: I see.
CP: So, I chartered a taxi to follow them when they drove off.
DB: And your girlfriend was with you in the taxi?
DB: Why did you have to involve her in this?
CP: That’s the something I am regretting right now.
CP: Dad took the lady to a hotel, gave her money to go book a room, and then, he joined her inside after waiting in his car for almost, 10 minutes.
DB: I see.
CP: I tried calling Dad, when he was in the car waiting. He ignored my calls.
CP: What’s funny?
DB: You were not expecting a horny man to answer your calls to talk books and fees, were you?
CP: When he joined the girl in the hotel room, I called again. He ignored my call, so I called my mother to call him.
DB: No, you did not!
CP: I did.
DB: What reason did you give to your mother?
CP: No reason. I just told her I needed to speak to him urgently, but he wasn’t answering my calls.
DB: I see
CP: Mum says he picked on her third attempt and he was claiming to be in an urgent meeting at Tema. Dave, he was nowhere near Tema.
DB: I get your point
CP: My Dad has really let me down.
DB: He’s human
CP: So are the other faithful men out there.
DB: He’s still your father.
CP: Smh. He left the hotel after two hours or so, and then, the lady followed after an hour, to pick a taxi.
DB: You had that time to spy on them that long, with your girlfriend?
CP: I was confused, Dave. I didn’t understand why he would do that to my mother. Mum has done so much for him. How stupid can one be?
DB: Most men do not believe they can cheat on their spouses until it happens. That isn’t stupidity or weakness. That’s just human nature sometimes
CP: To cheat?
DB: No, to err.
CP: Hmmm. Of course, I know that they are not always the happiest couple together; they disagree a lot, dad sometimes comes home very late. They give themselves attitude and oftentimes, talk anyhow to each other… However, they have chosen to still remain married. Why wouldn’t dad show my mother some respect?
DB: That, shouldn’t be your cup of tea. Focus on your education and girlfriend.
CP: It’s not that simple, Dave. He makes me hate him a lot of the time when he is being mean towards my mother.
DB: You should rather be picking lessons out of their seemingly ‘failing’ relationship. Two people should not ruin each other by being together. What’s the point in being together if you are not the happiest?
CP: How about the love and happiness shared in the past? Is it not worth fighting for? Why should dad give up on my mother that easily?
DB: If your mother or father is giving love, and not receiving love back from the other, then they probably are not in the right relationship.
CP: But they are married. Is that not what love is about?
DB: Being in love, and being married, are two DIFFERENT things. People marry for various reasons. Marriage does not equal love.
CP: You are right
DB: We should not try to convince anyone who is no longer that much into us, to love us, or respect us, or to commit to us. We deserve better than that: we are better than that.
CP: Hmmm. My little sister tells me sometimes, when I visit home, that they don’t seem to respect each other. She says, they just don’t care or pretend to care only when she’s around them both
DB: How old is your little sister?
CP: 9 years.
DB: Children see a lot.
CP: And it’s so unfair, Dave.
DB: Let’s talk about your girlfriend
CP: I want to talk about my dad
DB: Boy, leave your parents alone
CP: I can’t
DB: Why not?
CP: Because my girlfriend’s issues has also got to do with my parents.
DB: How so?
CP: My girlfriend wants me to either tell my mother the truth of what we witnessed, or end our relationship.
DB: How is this either here nor there?
CP: You need to ask my girlfriend, Dave. You need to talk to her. She’s not talked to me for the past few days.
DB: Her reasons being?
CP: She doesn’t feel she can trust a man who can keep such a secret from his mother
DB: She also has a mouth. Let her do the telling
CP: She’s threatened to, probably before breaking up with me.
CP: Can you imagine?
DB: What are you going to do with that information about your father?
CP: I don’t know. I wanted to ask for your opinion.
DB: On what?
CP: Whether to tell my mother or not. That is the only condition on which my girlfriend would trust me again.
DB: Any relationship without trust is like a car without fuel. You can stay in it all you want, but it wouldn’t go anywhere
DB: Meaning, your lady already did not trust you. This your daddy’s issue just came in handy for her to prove her point.
CP: We’ve had a few unsettling issues between us but we are dealing with it.
DB: I hear
CP: What do I do, Dave? I love my girlfriend. I want my mother to know what my dad has been up to too. I’m just not sure how to go about it.
DB: You need to focus on your studies, because as it stands now, that’s the only thing you seem to have control over.
CP: Should I tell my mum?
DB: Focus on your studies.
CP: That wasn’t my question.
DB: That is the solution to your question.
CP: Why are you trying to avoid my question?
DB: What good would come out of you telling your mother? She probably is waiting for a proof as this to leave the marriage. She probably already knows about his affairs, who knows? Your dad probably doesn’t care, whether or not she knows, or would just use excuses to minimize it to nothing, and be acting as if nothing ever happened.
DB: But your mother has the right to know though.
CP: I’m so disappointed in myself right now.
CP: I don’t know. At age 19, I still do not know how to think critically on issues – on my own.
DB: Boy, I am 33 and almost as confused as you are.
CP: What do I do? My girlfriend wants me to tell Mum, or our relationship is over.
DB: You love that girl, don’t you?
CP: She’s the only one who understands me. She gets me
DB: Why is she not getting you right now? Why is she putting you on the edge of ‘to tell’ or ‘not to tell’? You need to do this for you, you know? They are your parents, not hers.
CP: I want to tell my mum. I just don’t know how to. They both taught me to be honest.
DB: Good! That’s a great place to start: Honesty! So write them both a note. Same information on the note, that they both taught you to be honest, and that is why you are trying to be very honest with them, on paper. Narrate what you saw and did that day, and then give each parent a copy, in front of each other… And then walk away, guilt-free, without looking back.
CP: It sounds crushing
DB: It’s not easy, but I think that is what I would have done. I think. You need to try your best to stay out of this.
CP: I know my mum, she will want to involve me, always in this, just to drive her point home
DB: If she tries bringing you into the middle of this, you RUN!
CP: The thought of breaking my mother’s heart
DB: Your dad is already at his best doing that to her at home, without your help. Forgotten what your little told you?
DB: You are not supposed to be the middle man in your parents’ issues. You are their son, not their therapist.
CP: You think my mother knows?
DB: Women, especially wives, tend to know a lot. They may choose not to talk about it, but trust me, your mother knows. She knows your father is having affairs, and that, he’s a cheat. And the fact that, she has chosen to still be with a cheat, rather than dealing with the idea of starting all over, should encourage you to also focus on you, your studies, and your relationships with others outside of your family.
CP: You make it sound so simple
DB: Because I am typing it to your reading, not doing it. It takes a second for me to type. Lol!
CP: Smh. Hmmm
DB: Everything is going to be alright.
CP: I hope so
DB: Let it go if you are still not certain as to what to do. We do not have any control over our parents’ relationships, and it is very unfair for any child to put that burden on themselves. You are just 19 years old. You can invoke the don’t ask, don’t tell policy – for your own peace of mind.
CP: Thank you, Dave.
DB: You are welcome.