Sometimes dads (and moms) are very stupid. Read on and youíll see what I mean.
Q: Dear Meredith,
My dad recently took me out to dinner to tell me that after 20 years of marriage, he has decided to leave my mom next weekend -- when I am away visiting friends. He doesn't plan on telling her until after a family wedding this weekend because he doesn't want to upset the rest of the family.
I knew my parents didn't have the most perfect relationship as they come from two completely different worlds (to put it simply: she is from the city and he is from the country), but I never thought in a million years that they would get a divorce, or that my dad would tell me before my mom.
How am I supposed to go to this wedding, knowing that I am expected to put on a happy face and be in like a million happy family photos knowing what I know, and how do I act with my mom? We are very close and she will know that something is up.
Angry and Sad, Boston
A: A&S, I am also A&S -- on your behalf.
The good thing about being older when your parents get divorced is that youíre mature enough to get your head around whatís happening. The bad thing about being older when your parents get divorced is that they can forget youíre their kid. Sometimes, if youíre over 20, parents want you to be their pal. That can be cool, but not in this case.
Obviously, Dad was in the wrong. He told you because he wanted early validation for his decision -- and because he's afraid of losing you when he tells Mom.
Tell Dad you are not his pal. Youíre his kid, and he should treat you accordingly. Tell him that from now on, you canít be involved in his decisions as they happen. Your parents can report to you when they have news to share.
Unfortunately, youíll have to get through the weekend with a smile. You canít do Dadís dirty work for him -- Iím sure thereís some subconscious part of him that hopes youíll tell Mom so he doesnít have to. If Mom asks you whatís up during the wedding (moms are perceptive like that), tell her youíre OK, but that youíll talk more soon. When Mom eventually hears the news, tell her you love her and that youíll be there for her -- but give her the same warning. You can love her as her kid, but you canít be her best friend. Both of your parents have to find peers to lean on during this process so you donít shoulder the burden.
Set those boundaries now -- and seek out some friends of your own to talk to. Itís going to be a rough few weeks. No matter your age, youíre still a child coping with a family split. Youíre allowed to care for yourself right now.
Readers? What was Dadís motivation to tell this reader before Mom? If youíre older when your parents get divorced, do you become too involved? Should A&S tell Mom what she knows? Share here. Submit letter to the right. Twitter, etc.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.