Ask Joey: Fess up, grow up

Joey Garcia

I was sick of my parents always checking my text messages, so I started reading theirs. When I read my dad’s, I found out he is having an affair. I’m really scared, and I don’t want to be around him anymore. He keeps asking me what is wrong, and lately, my mom is asking, too. Should I tell my mom about the texts?

Fess up to both parents, like this: Ask to talk to them at the same time. Invite them to sit together on the living-room couch while you stand and say, “I got really sick of you reading my texts, so I read yours. I am sorry. I realize now that I should not have done it. I hope you will be able to forgive me and trust me again. You both know what is in those text messages, so please talk about it now. Do not put me in the middle of this. I am going to my room.” Then, go to your bedroom or to a friend’s house, and let your parents work it out. Don’t try to spy on them while they talk. You will know if the truth came out.

If you are too scared to carry out the speech I just suggested, write your parents a letter. Then, using the same idea of calling a meeting, hand them the letter and leave the room. But, try to be brave and use your voice, if you can. Speaking to your parents directly is the more difficult choice. It builds inner strength and resiliency, both essential ingredients for a good life.

One last thing: Your parents have the right to check your text messages. They pay your phone bill and are responsible for guiding your growth into adulthood. You have no right or reason to check their messages without explicit spoken permission. Discovering a possible affair does not excuse your action. You did not like your parents’ rule and were retaliating against it and them, right? Now, admit to yourself that you have broken a sacred trust, and don’t do it again.

I have a co-worker who is obsessed with celebrities and talks about them as if they are her personal friends. She is always interrupting my workday with random and stupid comments about the Kardashians or some other People magazine regular. I could not care less. I have tried to drop hints that I am not interested. I have tried to head her off before she starts one of her monologues about some celebrity. She never has a clue that I’m not interested. We work in a small office so I can’t really get away from her. Any suggestions?

Stop littering your conversations with hints. Instead, be honest. Say, “It’s cool that you are so into this, but I am not the least bit interested in the lives of celebrities.” Then chat about something else or turn back to the work at hand. Not ready to be your true self? Try this: The next time she launches into a story about a celebutant, look into her eyes and touch her lightly on the arm. Then say, “I want to get back to work. I have way too much to do. Sorry!” Then, get back to work. But spend a little time at lunch reflecting about how you interrupt your own focus. Or, whether you disrupt other people’s days with useless texts or tweets (“At Starbucks for a latte”). And, if you refuse to use any of this advice because you fear it will hurt your co-worker’s feelings, reconsider. Have your feelings ever been hurt? Did you get over it? Maybe even learn from the experience?

Meditation of the week
“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed,” said Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In what area of your life are you allowing yourself to be oppressed?

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