Question: I am a 21-year-old man and I come from a dysfunctional family. My parents have a very bitter relationship but they aren't divorced because my mother is financially dependent on my father. I cannot even support her because I am still a student. I am very close to my mother since my childhood and I have witnessed her being abused, both verbally and physically, by my father and his family. She had gone through serious troubled stages in life and she had none but one of her friends for support. Her friend is the father of one of my classmates. Recently, I discovered that my mother is having an affair with him and it has been going on for long. I am really sad, worried and angry. I am sad because I feel betrayed that she didn't even tell me about it. Worried about how my father would behave when he finds out and angry because I feel very helpless. I am unable to concentrate anywhere. What should I do? —By Anonymous
Response by Rachana Awatramani: Parent’s life, their behaviour and actions do have a huge impact on their children, especially, when children witness abusive relationships of their parents. Children go through various emotions and sometimes find it difficult to address them on their own. I am glad you could write to us.
I understand that you are currently experiencing mixed emotions as you found out that your mother is having an affair with your friend’s father. You mentioned that your mother has gone through difficult times as your father has an aggressive approach and you have witnessed your father and his family abusing your mother. It had been really challenging for her and traumatic for you. I comprehend your situation and also get that you are feeling betrayed as your mother did not tell you this. Which can be because she might not be comfortable sharing about her relationship with you as you are her child and still a student.
You also seem to be worried and scared if your father finds out and he might get angrier. First, you need to know that it is your mother's life and you can maintain your distance from her private life. Second, hitting is wrong and can not be encouraged or supported, therefore you can speak to your mother and ask her to seek help from her family, or women cell if required. Third, you are unable to cope with your challenges as you constantly think about your mother and father. Currently, your academics and career life should be the priority and you can not make decisions for your parents. Lastly, visit a counselor.
You can not change anyone around you but yourself. You are responsible for your life and it’s better you take charge of that and priorities your life.
Ms. Rachana Awatramani is a Counseling Psychologist at Insight Counseling Services in Mumbai
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