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Mom Asks If She's Wrong For Using Daughter As Therapist After Husband's Emotional Affair

Photo: fizkes / Shutterstock / Reddit 
mother, daughter, therapist, emotional affair

After a woman discovered that her husband was having an emotional affair with one of his colleagues, she did not have many people to turn to and vent her feelings. Instead of getting professional help, the woman turned to her daughter for emotional support. However, her daughter grew uncomfortable with her mother discussing her father’s actions with her.

Now, the mother is wondering if she was in the wrong for appointing her daughter as her support figure during “one of the lowest points” of her life. 

The mother used her daughter as her therapist in order to open up about her husband’s ‘emotional affair.’ 

Sharing her story to the subreddit, r/AmITheA–hole, the 54-year-old mother revealed that she and her 22-year-old daughter are currently on a month-long summer vacation in Europe together. 

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The mother claims that she is very close with her daughter and that she is “mature and strong-willed for her age” and “gives great advice.” “I tend to turn to her for emotional support and get her insight,” the mother admitted. 

The mother shares that she discovered that her husband was having an “emotional affair” with a colleague for several months. “I immigrated from the Philippines to marry my husband and have been heavily financially dependent on him ever since,” the woman wrote. “I’m currently building a plan to become more independent, begin the divorce process, and hopefully move back to the Philippines.” 

The woman says that she does not have many people in her life who she is comfortable discussing this with. The only person she can rely on and trust completely is her daughter. 

During their vacation, the woman decided to open up to her daughter about her husband’s affair and her feelings surrounding it. While she has been there for her mother, the young woman wishes to remain neutral. 

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“She has her own close relationship with both my husband and me, so even though she knows my husband f–ked up, she still wants to preserve those relationships (though she is clearly in an uncomfortable position and is hurt by her father’s actions),” the mother wrote. 

“When I’ve vented about this to her over the weeks, she has kept a logical, objective perspective and supports my plans to divorce which has been tremendously helpful.” 

The woman’s daughter became overwhelmed by her mother’s constant ranting about her father. 

“She snapped at me extremely angrily, expressing how this has been causing her stress and sadness,” the woman shared. “She said some hurtful things, such as how I’ve been overwhelming, I need to stop being insecure and get my s–t together without involving other people too much in my problems.” 

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Photo: Reddit

The woman’s daughter encouraged her to “take action” and make changes in her life that will ease her anxieties. The mother, however, admits that she “doesn’t know where to start” and feels lost. “I was hoping my daughter would help me throughout the process but now I feel bad to ever bring it up again and be irritating,” she wrote. 

The mother asked other Redditors if she was being unfair to her daughter by dumping her marriage problems onto her, believing that her daughter should be more “understanding” and “grateful” considering all the sacrifices she’s made in life to ensure her health and happiness. 

“I’m not sure if it’s fair that she now resents me when I’m going through one of the lowest points of my life,” the mother added. 

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Redditors believed that the mother was in the wrong.

Most agreed that it was inappropriate to appoint her child as her therapist to discuss her marriage problems. They argued that it was unfair for the woman to not only vent about the matter to her daughter but to put her in the middle of her mother and father’s relationship. They encouraged her to seek professional help.  

“Stop burdening your daughter like this,” one user commented. “Get off your a– and do something.” 

“So inappropriate, OP [original poster] needs to go see a therapist,” another user wrote. 

Others shared that their own mothers have put them in similar situations and how it strained their relationship. 

“As someone who has seen this happen, I can only imagine how long has OP used her daughter as a therapist, to the point she became ‘very good at giving advice,’” one user commented. “This hit HARD I had to move 1,000 miles to get away from my mother and never again,” another user shared. 

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Psychologists advise against parents using their children as their therapists. 

Parents relying on their children for emotional support is more harmful than it is beneficial. There is even a term for it called “parentification,” and it is defined as the act of placing your children in situations where they feel more like parents than children. They may feel this way when their parents turn to them with their issues and rely on them to act as a therapist instead of seeking professional help.

While it is perfectly acceptable to have a close bond with your children, psychologists do not recommend unloading all of your personal problems onto them. 

“The parent-child relationship by definition is hierarchical,” Vanessa Lapointe, a registered psychologist and parenting expert, has explained. “Kids need to be able to lean into the emotional rest that hierarchy provides for them. The child leans in by being braced by the strong backbone of the parent. If you’re besties with your littles, they’re leaning in and you’re leaning back into them, and the structure becomes wobbly.” 

This can result in children growing up to be “emotionally immature.” 

While this woman’s daughter was an adult herself, she is still the daughter of the woman and an appropriate parent-child relationship needs to be preserved no matter how old children get. 

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Megan Quinn is a writer at YourTango who covers entertainment and news, self, love, and relationships.