Re­veal­ing his phan­tom job is not ‘in­ter­fer­ing’

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - el­liead­ DEAR EL­LIE

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.

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