[Two Pronged] Can dad still change? Is my mom just weak?
Rappler's Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes.
Jeremy has a master's degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives.
Call me Anna (not my real name). I have an almost perfect family, having a very supportive family. I'm very close to my stay-at-home dad. My mom was the one working for us.
We read books together, talked about anything and everything, he’s a perfect father but never a perfect husband.
Mama and papa always argue. I chose not to listen to continue the good life I had.
During college I realized that my father has a problem. Through my psychology classes, I discovered my father is mentally ill. He has delusions of grandeur (sometimes he thinks he’s a werewolf), clingy (not eating if it's not my mom who cooked the food, kicking out our house boy, cook et cetera, if they help my mom at our fast food place).
No maid lasted a year. Mama told me Papa had a porn addiction, masturbates, calls the maid to wipe off his dirt, he’s even a voyeur (peeps at the maids bathroom).
My hatred grew. I consulted a psychiatrist. She confirmed Papa has borderline schizophrenia (based on my stories).
I told Papa, but he was defensive, not drinking his meds or seeking help.
We have this little girl who grew up with us (she is a daughter of our house boy and when his wife and him split up they left the child with us). She is almost my sister, I remember cuddling her when she was a baby, mama loves her so much, as her own child. The problem, papa tried to touch her. Let's call her Jane.
Jane told Mama about it, but Mama just told her to be careful. I told Mama to do something about it. I'm married and not living with them. I can't take any action because I don't want my husband to know.
She's feeding the child to a monster! Mama hired a teenage girl and told me its papa's new 'consumo ' (prey); that's why he’s not bothering Jane anymore.
But mama kicked her out because Mama told me “lakwachera” (lay-about), though eventually admitting she thought girl is pregnant with Papa’s child.
Two months ago, when mama went out of town, she called me that I will just let Jane sleep in my house. Papa tried to touch her again.
Jane told me she was sleeping and Papa started touching her, pulling her inside the room. She managed to escape. I brought her to the police, Papa was arrested.
Mama said it’s fine, just do whatever I think is right. But Mama never came home, leaving me the burden processing the case for papa.
Jane’s testimony was shocking. Papa started when she was 9. She is 13 now.
I know Papa has a problem. He's waiting for his subpoena, is under restraining order so he can't get near us.
The houseboy said Papa's ready for jail time. He’s accepted it’s his fault.
Is it possible Papa can still repent?
What's wrong with my mom? I hate mama for what she’s done! I think she is the root cause of this! Is she just weak?
Thank you for your email.
Your account of your home life raises more issues than a single column can realistically address so I will concentrate on you and your mother.
You curiously start your email saying that you have 'an almost perfect family' and 'a perfect father'. Since you then go on to paint your father as a borderline schizophrenic and sexual deviant, I shall be generous and suggest that you were being ironic.
Having grown up with a man who thought he was a werewolf, it seems strange that it was only in college that you began to realize that all was not well in your household. Your psychology studies there led you to believe that your father's werewolf beliefs indicated delusions of grandeur, an interesting conclusion which perhaps says more about either the quality of the teaching or your insufficiencies as a student (or both) – unless of course you and your family view werewolves as superior to human beings. On the other hand, maybe that was a natural conclusion to reach since you had spent nearly two decades living in a household which treated your father's behavior as though it were normal.
Suspension of normality continued when you first learned about your father's sexual behavior. Faced with your father's molestation of Jane, instead of dealing with his behavior the only action your mother took was merely to provide him with a teenage substitute to molest instead. And then, when the substitute purportedly became pregnant, your mother threw her out, again taking no action against your father whose attentions unsurprisingly turned back to Jane.
Finally, your mother conveniently left town upon finding out that your father was molesting Jane again, passing the buck to you to deal with the situation.
This is indeed a sorry saga. Your father will no doubt pay the price for his behavior though whether he is truly repentant or merely resigned to his fate is not clear. Your mother is an accessory to all this, having enabled your father for years. She is unlikely to be the root cause but certainly she has consistently failed to protect those under her roof and indeed put at least two girls directly in harm's way.
As for you, one phrase sticks out: "I can't take any action because I don't want my husband to know". You too failed to protect Jane but then you redeemed yourself later by calling in the police. You may wish to reflect on why you failed to act in the first place and what changed so that you did act later. Your email unfortunately casts no light on this.
All the best,
Thank you very much for your email. Because Mr Baer has commented on many of your issues, I shall say nothing more except when I disagree with him.
The only thing I disagree with is his statement: “You curiously start your email saying that you have 'an almost perfect family' and 'a perfect father'. Since you then go on to paint your father as a borderline schizophrenic and sexual deviant, I shall be generous and suggest that you were being ironic.”
I will not lie to you: His statement made me smile a bit. Mr Baer has a way of saying seemingly absurd things with a straight face. However, I think sometimes he is unfair, as he was to you. He hadn’t taken into account that this was your attempt to contextualize your situation and explain why all that happened during and after college was so devastating to you.
You knew your family wasn’t really perfect because your mom and dad always fought. However, as far as your father and your relationship was concerned, to you it was perfect.
You felt a need to have a positive view of your life but then again, what kid doesn’t? How else are otherwise powerless children to survive their dysfunctional families?
I also think that oftentimes most children feel they need to take sides (even if they try not to). That helps ensure they have allies, no matter how their situation changes.
Because your father spent more time with you than your mom, it was him you sided with. And for the longest time you felt you were correct in doing so.
Until things became too big to ignore. And when you discovered how your dad had taken advantage of two underage women, there was no way you could close your eyes to the fact that your dad was far from perfect too. And you are overwrought not only because of all you found out about him, but also because he betrayed not only those two women but also you.
Is it possible that your father repents? Yes but we have no way of truly knowing whether he has or hasn’t, will or won’t. So far his behavior is not that of someone repentant.
What's wrong with your mom? Is she just weak?
Forcing you to deal with the legal and criminal aspects of your father’s sexual acts and behaving like a pimp for your father, etc. is not merely weak but a complete repudiation of what it means to be a mother.
If any repenting is necessary, your mom seems to need it as much, or even more, than your father. We do not know your father’s ability to discern, which will affect his ability to take responsibility for his behavior and capacity to repent. Your mother, however, seems capable of discernment and has just misbehaved terribly.
Dearest Anna, thank you for trusting us with many details of your life, no matter how painful they are. As Mr Baer said: “Your account of your home life raises more issues than a single column can realistically address” but I hope we have shared enough food for thought to serve as springboards for deeper analysis and courage to do what you truly want to do with your life.
All the best,
Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.