Dear Amy:

I am a 17-year-old boy and couldn't ask for a better family. I recently discovered through e-mails, Web sites and phone calls that my father is having an affair with another woman.

He is not a bad person. The fact that he would betray my mother is incomprehensible. He just doesn't seem like the kind of person to do this, but he did.

I have evidence that can prove my case.

I feel angry toward him for doing this to my mother, and I am reluctant to tell my mother because of the pain it would put on my family.

Is this an invasion of my father's privacy? Is it my place to bring this up or is it my dad's issue?

I feel I have a duty to say something, but I do not want to disturb the peace that exists in our home.

I think this is a big deal, but I could be overreacting.

If I spill, I am worried about what will happen to my relationship with my father.

Please help me make a decision.

Blissful Ignorance

You don't make ignorance sound too blissful. This sounds like a heavy burden -- one your father should never have saddled you with.

You should start by reframing this issue. You sound like an investigator from a "CSI" show. This situation is not a "case." Your father isn't the perpetrator and you're not an investigator or prosecutor. He's the dad and you're the son, and what he is doing is causing you pain.

You don't say what you did to uncover this activity, but now that you have, you should call your investigation to a halt and speak to your father about it.

He will probably deny that he's doing anything wrong. But you need to give him an opportunity to explain himself to you, to apologize and to make a decision about what he is going to do next.

If he really is a good guy, then he'll use this sorry episode as a reason to change -- I hope with you and your mother by his side.

Dear Amy:

For the past 15 years that I have been married, I have been the one to acknowledge birthdays and special occasions for my husband's family. I send and sign all of the birthday cards and gifts, Mother's Day and Father's Day cards, holiday cards and gifts. I also e-mail notes and photos of our kids and their latest activities. Why have I taken on this responsibility of keeping up with my husband's family? Well, he travels a lot for work, he doesn't make a big deal about birthdays and he's not much of a shopper.

I usually enjoy making people feel good on their special days, though I do have to plan my time carefully in order to include everyone and keep the grandparents advised of what we're doing. If I didn't do it, no one would!

So imagine how hurt I am when my birthday, or another important event, is ignored by my in-laws. This year, my birthday was not acknowledged and neither was a community volunteer award that I won. Both events happened during the same week, and I have to say I was hurt! I felt like I wasn't on their radar screen, despite my endeavors to keep in touch.

Kindness is a two-way street, and we especially need to care for our family members -- we are together for the long haul.

I'm really trying to be a good daughter-in-law.

Connecticut Mom

Not only are you trying to be a good daughter-in-law, it sounds as if you are succeeding. Now it's time for your husband to step up and be a good son and husband.

He should contact his parents -- preferably before the holidays -- to say, "You know, Cynthia does so much for all of us. She never forgets your birthdays or the holidays, and she works so hard to keep you posted about the kids. Honestly, Mom and Dad, if it weren't for her, this entire family would grind to a halt."

He should ask his parents to make a special effort to acknowledge you over the holidays, and a week or so before your birthday he should shoot them a reminder that it would be thoughtful for them to send you a card.

It's important for them to recognize you for the exact same reasons that you work so hard to keep in touch -- because, as you so nicely say, we all need to care for family members because we are together for the long haul.

Write to Amy Dickinson at or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

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