Stopping Dad’s Lies

6 Apr

Letterbalm Lying TextDear LetterBalm: My parents recently split up after they were married for almost 20 years. My brother is 16 and I’m 15, and we’ve all always been pretty close. But our father has always had a drinking problem — he’s not physically violent or anything, but he gets angry and shouts a lot, especially at our mom. He moved out of the house and started accusing mom of sleeping around, which isn’t true. His side of the family believes him and is mad at mom now. This makes her sad and she cries a lot. My brother and I are petty mad at dad, but we don’t know what to do.

–In the Middle

How unfortunate that you and your brother are in the middle of a domestic mess, especially since you obviously love both your parents, even with their imperfections. Ms. L.B. hopes you and your brother have talked things over and enlisted the help of a responsible adult – your guidance counselor at school or a teacher, perhaps – to listen and offer counsel. See if Alateen is something you might consider, too. One way you might approach the situation – no guarantees – is to use the power of children to speak truth to adults. Talk with a coolheaded relative on your dad’s side of the family and ask him or her to sit with you and your brother as you plead your mom’s case to your dad (who should be sober for this, if possible). It’s best if your mom isn’t around. You’ll have to be mature and calm, so you and your brother might practice first. Keep it simple and from the heart:

Dad, you know we love you very much. It’s been hard for us that you and mom aren’t together, and it means a lot that you’re trying to stay in our lives. But you’re continuing to drink, and that makes you say bad things about Mom that you know aren’t true. This is tearing the family apart. Mom’s sad, we’re sad, you’ve got everybody angry, and it’s a big mess. We think you should talk to your family to set things straight. It’s the right thing to do. Will you do this for us? For your family who loves you? And, will you consider getting some help for your drinking?

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