Revealing his phantom job is not ‘interfering’
Q. My daughter’s been married for 12 years and has two young children. She’s a dedicated, hard-working teacher and the “breadwinner.”
He’s had a series of lower-paying jobs but my daughter’s content with this situation.
He’s a nice person and good father, and we’ve always liked him.
I’ve recently become aware that he’s not working. My daughter’s unaware of this. It’s the second time this has happened.
Three years ago, he was out of work for a year and let my daughter believe he was working.
He ran up a lot of debt through credit cards.
He was keeping track of the finances to spare her the “worry.”
Our oldest daughter discovered by accident that he wasn’t working. He begged her not to tell his wife or anyone. These deceptions created a terrible strain within the whole family.
Eventually, she told us about his unemployment, thinking that his wife knew. She didn’t.
It was a terrible shock to her, and to all of us that he lied to her and us, and created debt for a year.
They had marriage and financial counselling. He said he feared she’d leave him.
He’d suffered some very difficult experiences in his young years which have affected him negatively and seem to explain this episode. She forgave him, he got a new job. She was to work with him on tracking their finances.
As part of his job, he was often required to attend evening events, overnight conferences, etc. in other cities. Our daughter trusted him.
Eight months ago, he was notified that the organization would be closing down and he should seek other employment.
This time he told his wife and the rest of the family immediately.
He claimed to have started a new job 10 weeks ago.
Three weeks ago, my husband and I discovered that he’s not working at all. He drops the children off at school, drops our daughter at her job, then sits at home.
The office where he claims to work has never heard of him.
I believe my daughter truly thinks he’s working. I wonder if he’s having an affair. I don’t feel he’s the person he’s been presenting himself as, and I don’t understand how or why he can be doing this. Again!
I want to tell her, but I don’t want to shatter her life.
I want to advise him to tell her himself, but I fear he’ll just lie to her some more, or harm her or the children or himself.
I’m worried that if I don’t tell her, when she does find out, she’ll be angry that I hid this from her.
I’m also worried about the financial trouble they must be in with him pretending to be bringing in an income that doesn’t exist.
Should we tell her, or just let her go along believing everything’s OK until the ground falls out from underneath her? A. Terrible choices for you, but one must be made.
Your responsibility as a parent and grandparent is to reveal that they’re living on the edge of a financial disaster and the possibility of a marital crisis affecting everyone involved, particularly their children.
This is not “interfering.” It’s the right thing to do, even if your daughter resents being told.
Otherwise, the deceptions mount, and so do the debts, again.
She’ll be able to end the charade, and also confront what she wants for the future rather than have it snatched from her by more crises.