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Dear Chump Lady, I found my cheating dad’s homemade porn

Xmas9Dear Chump Lady,

I am so grateful for what you did in my previous predicament! http://www.chumplady.com/2014/10/dear-chump-lady-my-dad-is-cheating-on-his-girlfriend/ His now ex-girlfriend and her son are moving out. I’ll miss them, but seeing how they argue and about what (mostly his cheating) it’s for the best. However, something has come up; I hate to come to you with every little thing, but I feel like I can trust you and your opinion, seeing that you’ve dealt with things like this.

My brother and I were looking through his pictures at videos and photos I had taken on trips and stuff (I usually take videos and photos when we travel) and we came across this file. Within the file was basically homemade porn. I saw pictures of a woman (who I assume was a stripper) in my kitchen! This didn’t turn my stomach like when I found out he was cheating, but it, excuse me, pissed me off.

The photos were completely inappropriate, my father wasn’t in any of them, and there was no nudity. However there were photos of both things a woman has, covered, but there.

The computer that he loaded them on was a computer my brother and I had gotten for Christmas one year, and he has his own laptop. It confuses me how he is so sloppy in hiding his “homemade porn.”

A few years ago, we were doing the same thing, scrolling through photos. We came across one of my brother’s friend’s mom with my dad on the porch outside! They were doing the same thing. From then on I basically hated her.

I know my dad is a jerk and an A-hole, but this is just too far. The pictures were dated around the time he and his most recent ex started dating. Why does this keep happening to me?

Thanks,

Mollie

P.S. 

Nobody ever ended up telling his girlfriend, but it was again only a matter of time before she figured it out. He was bad at hiding everything. 

This computer is at his house. My mom does think it’s best that we spend less time with him, and I agree, but I don’t know how on earth I could ever break it to him without him A) blaming mom and B) getting mad. I want this to stop and I understand that that is the only solution, but I have never been one to break things to people, most especially bad things. 

Editors note: From my correspondence with Mollie, I learned she is “almost 13 years old and in the 7th grade.”

Dear Mollie,

A lot of adults look at porn. Everyone has different tolerances, tastes, and their own deal breakers on the subject. (None at all, a bit, that’s your private business, it’s too much, it’s interfering with intimacy, it’s an addiction, it’s involving minors and farm yard animals…) All to say, porn spans from the softcore and legal to the hardcore and illegal.

Some people look at porn for titillation, (forgive the pun), to get turned on, and leave it there. And some people, it reflects a disturbing aspect of their sexuality. They’re compulsive about it and secretive. And they prefer pictures to people. Pictures don’t have needs. Pictures are just there to gratify you. Pictures don’t want you to be their date Friday and talk to you, or watch their sick kid. Pictures just give and ask nothing in return.

You know who prefers pictures over people? Fuckwits. Porn helps people “objectify” others. Just see them as parts and pieces to pleasure themselves with. The pictures are a fantasy. A lot of disordered people prefer fantasy to real life, whereas healthy people know Disney World is just a short vacation.

So, that’s my little sermon on porn. (And please chumps, today, let’s support Mollie and not get sidetracked on to a discussion of Porn Is Cheating!/No It’s Not!)

But Mollie, what distinguishes your dad as a disturbed character is not that he has porn — it’s that he brazenly loads it on a computer that he GAVE TO YOU and your brother! And this isn’t the first time you found inappropriate pictures on “your” computer?

Okay, my best interpretation of this is he’s sloppy and doesn’t give a shit. My worst interpretation is that he wants you two to find them because he gets off on that. (Consciously or unconsciously. I’m not a shrink. I’m sure others will weigh in on this.)

Point is, healthy adults, especially PARENTS have boundaries between their personal lives and their parenting lives. Your father’s sex life should be a total mystery to you. And (when you’re older) vice versa. (I’m sure my own father thinks I live in a tower and only had sex once to give him a grandson. Or perhaps I found my son under a cabbage leaf.) It’s not that we don’t know our parents have sex (helloOo… we exist), it’s that we should never be burdened with the particulars.

Mollie, you’ve been burdened with WAY too many particulars. From his sexting, to his cheating, to now his homemade porn with friends and neighbors.

My advice to you is pretty much along the lines of my advice in my last letter — limit contact with him. He doesn’t like it? That’s HIS problem. Direct your mom here, we’ll support her and help her hang tough. You may be at the age where the courts will let you decide for yourself.  Besides, I’m sure your dad does not want to go to court over this, because then you would have to tell the judge about the sext messaging and porn and the cheating on his girlfriend issues. Doesn’t put him in the best light.

 My mom does think it’s best that we spend less time with him, and I agree, but I don’t know how on earth I could ever break it to him

Mollie, it’s not YOUR job to break it to him. It’s your mom’s job. And you don’t have make any grand pronouncement, you just have to find yourself terribly busy. Oh, hey dad, Valerie invited me over to braid her hair, catch you later. See how that works?

If there is a court order about visitation? Again, reach out to an adult. Your mom. A friend of the court. A school counselor.

without him A) blaming mom

He might very well blame your mom — and you know what? You don’t control that. And your mom doesn’t control it either. Disordered people blame EVERYONE. Your dad probably blames his ex-girlfriend for his cheating on her. That’s how disordered people roll — they blame.

You cannot dance pretty enough to avoid your dad blaming everything that displeases him on you or your mother or The One World Order or his fallen arches or WTFever.

Dad’s blaming mom. Ho hum. Yawn.

and B) getting mad.

See above. His anger IS NOT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY.

I know you’re a good kid, and good kids want to please their parents. But with disordered people the game is rigged — they’re un-pleasable or their anger is hugely disproportionate to the offense.

There are going to be times (more and more as you become a teenager) where you are going to anger your father. Do not walk on eggshells for ANYONE, EVER Mollie. Conduct yourself with integrity, communicate, and don’t live in fear of what other people think.

I want this to stop and I understand that that is the only solution, but I have never been one to break things to people, most especially bad things. 

Mollie, you can’t stop your dad’s issues with cheating, porn, and general douchebaggery. He is who he is. We can’t change or control other people. Just ourselves. (I know, very unsatisfying answer.)

So, don’t break it to him. Just be unavailable. Reach out to trusted adults who can help you learn to set boundaries with your dad and who will go to bat for you on this visitation thing.

On the other hand… I suppose you could make him a homemade video entitled “Dad, You’re a Douche” and leave it on his laptop under travel pictures. Um… just a suggestion.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
    • What a wonderful article. CL’s advice can be applied to other forms of abuse, not just cheating. Our community encourages empowerment, honesty, and refusing to change our values when faced with cheater/[insert other bad thing here] apologists. Je suis Chump Lady!

  • Mollie, i have a great kid almost the same age as you…and i watch as her dad has put her through similar situations( recently discussed his newly acquired vasectomy with her ) It forces you to understand things that perhaps you are not ready for or really should be exposed to. And as a kid you should never feel that you are the referee or the parent. You need to be a kid ( teen)!
    If you truely want to spend less time with your dad now then i think its a good conversation to have with your mom. As you grow you may change your position and at some point your dads sex life will just be his own and you wont have to manage it from the side. I feel you feel responsible for a lot of what your dad does… How he hurts people. Its not your job honey. Your dad may always disregard other womens feelings and seriously there isnt much you can do… But its not your job to make him a better person and its not your job to make it better for other people. I know that we all want our parents to be these great people with great morals and blah blah blah… Sadly dads are people too and they mess up. But its how they make up for those ‘ mess ups’ that define them as a good person and their willingness to change. Honey some people never change. No matter how much we love them or wish it to be so. If your dad continues to be hurtful you will have to learn that its his choices and nothing to do with you or anyone else. You can learn to love your dad differently and have a different relationship that doesnt hurt you. Much like the friends in your life… Or cousins… There are different kinds of loves and it never means putting up with someone who treats you bad… Ever.
    How you form your opinion of relationship and men will largely be the result of your experiences at home. Have your mom take you to talk to a counselor or a peer who can help you sort out some of your feelings and the way you cope with them.
    I am sorry that at 13 you are figuring all this out and are faced with making choices that are really grown up oriented. Mollie, go and be the 13 year old you need to be and seriously… Stuff the rest.

    • In some states you need to be 12, in some 14, to let the courts know with your voice what is going on and what you prefer. Prefer, meaning how often you want to see your dad. You have all this evidence which will help. My kid’s dad is disgusting and sick. I can’t control that. They are little enough not to know better. I can only parent and role model as best I can and be there for them. It’s important you learn to use your voice and what you want for you as soon as possible. This may be a great opportunity. But only if it’s the right direction for you. I would never tell anyone not to see a parent. But you need to be a kid for as long as you can – because you are an adult for the rest of your life, dealing with adult things. These disordered people are describing is right on. They have no boundaries and they don’t care what they lay on you as they think they everyone is responsible for them. I hope that makes sense. Meaning, they can do or say whatever and if you bring it up, it’s your deal, not their’s. It’s the same things as blame shifting, gas lighting. They take no responsibility and no accountability, which makes it harder to be a kid with that kind of parent because you end up parenting yourself more and/or are somewhat of a parent to them. That’s why I suggest maybe thinking about talking to the courts. Everyone has their own tolerance level – you just need to determine yours. Big hugs today!

  • Mollie, CL was just joking about “Dad, You’re a Douche” video. Don’t do that. That could make him flaming mad.

    I second her opinion about becoming very, very busy. I would plan that very, very busy methodically. I don’t know what age your brother is, if he is younger, you don’t want to send him over there by himself. So you need to plan for him too. I don’t know what your visitation schedule is but start with missing every third one… get your dad used to it. Find something like a club, girlfriends, camping adventure, etc, too much homework, studying for a test or finals.Take up some sort of sport, where you practice during his time. (My daughter is expert in this) Your mother can back you up in the planning and back you up if he complains. ‘Teenagers just get very busy.’ and it is true, you are on the cusp of that busy-ness. But do the avoidance strategy slowly. Miss one of every three, then miss 2 of every three and finally… get down to the point where you only see him once every two or three months. You don’t want him to realize what is happening.

    Now he may not like this because how much he sees you impacts the amount of child support he pays… so your mother can’t be making any noises about going back to court to raise his child support because he is not seeing you. I suspect that if she doesn’t do that, he will fill his time with more douchbaggery and hardly notice you are gone at all.

    You will have escaped for the most part. Now sweet Mollie, the other thing you might need to think about, is that you have been through a lot with this douche dad of yours. You have been asked to be way more grown up that a 13 year old should be. There might be a time when you start to struggle, sometimes this stuff catches up to you. You might need to see a therapist. So if there comes a time when the world seems pretty crap to you, or you are always angry at your mom, that is the time to start to see a therapist. They can hold your hand and with your mother, US, and friends and teachers, you can get through these coming years and happily out into the big wide world. Much love

    • I agree with everthing you have said except for the part that Mollie needs to take the responsibility of her younger brother’s visitation schedule, so that he is not caught alone with his Dad. That’s Mom’s job – this young girl sounds like she’s already taking on way too much responsibility for her age. This type of premature responsibility-taking for a younger sibling sets up an unfortunate dynamic forl life. Trust me, I’ve been there.

      • Sorry, should have been more clear… Mom needs to be integrally involved in this plan for both of the kids… Mollie should not be responsible for managing brother’s life… that IS mom’s job.

  • Mollie,
    I was about your age when I told my father that I did not want to come over during court appointed visitation. It was one of the most difficult things I did as a child. When my brother and I would visit on our Wednesday nights or every other weekend, we would be dragged to a bar to watch my stepmom shoot pool or during visitation, dad would spend most of the time in his basement home office, not interacting with us kids. Obviously, it really bothered me and I found the courage to tell him I would visit when I wanted to, not when it was court ordered. But you know what – I did it!
    He is the reason my parents divorced – he cheated on my mother several times.
    Years later before he passed away ( I was 26 and married and he was going through a divorce with stepmom), he did tell me that me doing that really hurt him. You know what though? Him being late each and every visitation really hurt me. His putting me, his daughter and his son, at the bottom of the pedestal really hurt me. I see how it affected me now, but I didn’t then.
    Be strong, talk to your mother, talk to a school councilor. Don’t be afraid to use your voice and most importantly hold your head up high.
    Big hugs to you.

  • Wow Mollie! You are an amazingly mature and bright girl to figure out that something is very wrong with your father´s actions and that you need advice from adults to get over this. This means that you are conscious and won´t let him mess you up because you can distinguish very well right from wrong. When I read your first letter, I thought it was a young woman (maybe in her 20s) who was dealing with a messed up father. To know that you are not even a teen yet is really shocking. But it also means you don´t have to deal with this AT ALL. Your mother should be the one putting limits on your father´s actions and you have all the right to keep him at a distance. It really bugs me that your father would leave stuff like that on your computer. He has some sort of sick voyeuristic thing going on, and he also probably wants to mortify your mom. Your mom is clearly a chump if she hasn´t put limits on this.

    And thank you for making me aware of your views. I have a 12 year old who is now learning to deal with her cheating dad´s anger and emotional hangovers when she stays with him for long periods of time. He is not physically violent, but he does get easily upset about most things. And though he would never (I want to believe) put her in a situation where she was exposed to inappropriate images (he won´t let her have a tablet or iphone or be on facebook, etc) she still has to deal with his anger. With your letter, I realized that she shouldn´t have to do that and shouldn´t feel guilty about it either. As preteens you have enough to deal with, your bodies are changing, your emotions are intense, and you have had to go through the divorce of your parents. But I am happy to see that, however young you are, you already have more character and integrity than most adults and certainly more than any of the cheaters that we chumps have had to deal with. Congratulations! You are a fabulous girl and you should be VERY proud of yourself!

    • Mollie–and if that stuff is on YOUR computer, your mother needs to make copies onto a USB drive to keep as evidence in case she needs to limit visitation legally. My father was a porn addict, too, so I know what you are going through. It is deeply disgusting, and people like that don’t have sense of a Cocker Spaniel. They will continue to violate boundaries, and your father will minimize the impact on you & your brother as he gets more and more lax with his boundaries. At some point, unfortunately, this will come to a head, and your mother will need all the documentation she can get to protect you.

    • You basically just described my dad there! Anyhow, thank you so much for the positive feedback, it makes me feel a lot better about the situation at hand.

      • I’m proud of you, Mollie, for not standing for the garbage you’re being put through. When I was little I experienced smut through my father (now estranged) who was the type to molest his own daughters. be strong and stand up for what you know is right. Take action where you need to and support your mother where able. Tell her that you and her are going to be just fine. Empower her to take the stance necessary. Not just for your own sake, but for the sake of your siblings.

        I was emotionally damaged from my experiences as a little boy, I wish someone like you were my older sister at the time telling him that his actions were unacceptable.

  • Mollie, one of the sad things I learned in my job is that there are adults who can’t look after themselves so they don’t do a good job looking after their children, I don’t know if there is little contact between your parents because it sounds like your mother is leaving a grown up decision to you. It may be that your dad pays child support and that would stop if he got angry at her. I have the training and the job that helps me understand what children go through when their parents act like children. It makes you grow up too soon. You should be carefree while with your dad and yet you keep coming across things you should not have to worry about. I don’t worry so much about you as I do your brother. Boys who are exposed to too much pornography often become addicted to it. With one or two clicks on your computer you can find anything. Your brother needs to be a 7 year old kid and not worry about what he might see while with his dad. All these decisions should be your mother’s. If she can’t do anything then you are going to have to be big sister and make sure while you two are at your dad’s that you check the computer before your brother looks at it. I am so sorry this whole thing has made you grow up so fast but I hope it helps you learn how to behave as an adult. Tracy is right. Some people look at pictures of other people and enjoy it. That is not against the law. When it becomes a problem is when a parent forgets his responsibilities and exposes his children to it. If you enjoy your dad when you visit then just don’t get on the computer. Believe it or not children used to play cards, ride bikes and entertain themselves because there were no commuters. Good luck. You sound like a wonderful big sister and a great kid.

  • “I know you’re a good kid, and good kids want to please their parents. But with disordered people the game is rigged — they’re un-pleasable or their anger is hugely disproportionate to the offense.

    There are going to be times (more and more as you become a teenager) where you are going to anger your father. Do not walk on eggshells for ANYONE, EVER Mollie. Conduct yourself with integrity, communicate, and don’t live in fear of what other people think.”

    I repeated this, Mollie, because I think it’s really important. It is much easier said than done, but it is so importnat to try to do this. These people go through life with a lot of anger inside, free flowing, and apt to come out for any reason, or seemingly for no reason at all. Like the cheating, it has NOTHING to do with you. It is his problem, and nothing you can do will change it. If you aren’t careful it is easy to find yourself with a knot in your stomach all the time, and almost programming your behavior so as not to make him angry. That is completely wrong and unfair, but there it is.

    Understand that there is nothing to do that will keep him from getting mad about stuff, often trivial to everyone else, but not to him. Trust CL and the others here, the less you are around him and interact with him, the easier and better life will be.

    Trust me, I know. For crying out loud, my w got thrown out of the pet supply store the other day by the manager for arguing with people there and creating a scene. Of course, it was everyone else’s fault. I mean, who does that? How do you get tossed out of a pet store for bad behavior?

    Hang in, Mollie!!

  • Mollie –

    Can you get someone (your mom or one of your dad’s relatives that you trust) to tell your dad that you have viewed his pornography on your computer and it makes you very uncomfortable? Can you say this to your dad?

    Bring it out to the open and the secret is gone.

    You have been exposed to adult experiences at a young age and being 13 is hard enough as it is. I am very proud that you had the courage to seek advice. Get past this so you can focus on your homework and friends and continue to be that needed big sister for your brother.

    You are not alone. There are other kids your age suffering through the same thing and they don’t seek advice.

    Good luck and we are all here for YOU.

  • I knew the train had left the station when my xh took my daughter’s laptop to bed with him.

    This is about a week before he retreated to the spare bedroom.

    This laptop was mine. I had used it for my business but let my daughter have it when we moved almost 3 hours away from friends and family.

    I had not cleared my stuff from it or looked at it for a few months. It was leaning up against the edge of the bed where he had been clinging for so long.
    I picked it up and opened it. I really was only curious about what I had left on it – but it was just loaded with porn. Not soft porn either!!!

    He had fallen asleep and not closed it.
    I was shocked. Mostly because my daughter was coming home from visiting a friend and would be home that afternoon. The first thing she would do of course is pick up her laptop!!!

    Of course – he was sorry and it was a one time deal ( yeah ). My daughter was 14 at the time.

    These people are entitled and the rules don’t apply to them. You have to set up giant boundaries with these wingnuts!!!

    Chump Lady is right. You need to make yourself unavailable. Pick your battles.
    Maybe go to lunch out somewhere, but no more time at his house.

    Also – invest in some Lysol Wipes if you do need to go to Dad’s – ewwwe !!!!!

  • Mollie,
    I raised two sons, mostly by myself, after I divorced their father. My son’s were younger than you are now, and I really struggled with the need to divorce — but thankfully, I realized I would never be able to change their father’s habits, and that my son’s would be far better off with very limited contact than they were with him as a full time father.

    One of my concerns about my son’t growing into men was how they would think about women and treat women. I did not want them to think about women the way their father did — or treat women the way their father had treated me (and several other women I happen to know about). I did not want them to be exposed to porn, especially some of the types I found out that their father liked. I figured they would find out about it on their own, thru their acquaintances and the media, and they would have to come to their own decisions about that. I did however decide that I would be involved in their sexual education. This led to some difficult and uncomfortable conversations between me and my sons. But we got thru it.

    There are a few things you should think about while you are going thru your teen years and preparing to be a woman. First of all, you are not alone. There are many resources available to you, and many other young women and men who are going thru a very similar circumstance to yours. There are support groups and organizations that can help you. Second, whether you realize it or not, some of the thoughts and feelings you are experiencing now will influence decisions you will make in the future. Your family of origin problems will haunt you unless you find someone you can trust to talk to and to help you deal with these types of issues. The type of mate you will be attracted to and the type of relationship you find normal and the attitude you have towards love and sex will all reflect the attitudes that you were exposed to in your home. I know how powerful this is, and how difficult the issues are, because I grew up in a home with a dysfunctional father and a mother who was only able to teach me what she had been taught. She loved her children, but she taught me to be codependent, because she was taught that was the way to be a good woman. It was a very hard lesson for me to learn, and created some very unhealthy habits I had to change before I could free myself from the difficulties this type of behavior causes. The most important thing I had to learn was that I am only responsible for myself and my own actions, and I cannot change another person’s thoughts or actions. I also learned there are some people who will never be happy with anything you try to do to please them. NEVER.

    Even though I know that I had some influence on my son’s — they still had to grown into self-sufficient men who make their own decisions and bear the consequences of their own actions. They sometimes make mistakes, and they have to learn from those. I give them advice, but they don’t always take my advice. This is their choice — they are responsible for their choice. This is very hard, but is an inescapable part of becoming an adult. You seem to be a very capable and strong girl, especially considering your age. I know you are going to be able to survive and deal with issues as you grow up because you do not try to hide from them, but confront them and look for solutions. This is very brave. Chump Lady would say you are MIGHTY!!!

    My son’s decided on their own to see less and less of their father as they got older. They actually did become very busy, with school and sports and work and their musical interests. These interests were healthy and a much better way to spend their time than waiting for their father to find time to spend with them. He found out he could not take them for granted, but would have to value the time he spent with them and respect their schedules if he wanted to see them. I believe this made him reevaluate his priorities for awhile, at least, and came as quite a surprise to him. It made my son’s much stronger, much happier people, because they learned the benefit of setting boundaries and saying NO to things which were disrespectful to them and a waste of their time. I am very proud of the way they handled this, and I am confident that you will find a way to solve your problems, too. I wish you the very best of luck, and I hope you will find some great, supportive friends to help you as you go thru life. Be MIGHTY!

  • Dear Mollie, you are wise and brave beyond your years and I admire you so much! I don’t really have any wisdom to give you beyond listening to what Chump Lady and the other Chumps have told you. Please, please talk to your mom or some other adult you trust. We all want you to get to be the wonderful young girl you are without having to take on so much adult stuff. There’s plenty of time for that later when you actually are an adult.

    I’ll be thinking about you Mollie. Please check back in with Chump Lady and let her know how you’re doing. She’ll pass it on for the rest of us.

    Big hugs to you,
    Daisy

  • Hi Mollie,
    So sorry that you are a chump kid! Me too! I’m quite a bit older, but I know the feeling of having a freak for a dad. One thing I would want to bring up in all of this yuck for you is the issue of anger. If your dad is like my dad, he actually LIKES to be angry, it is a way of getting what he wants. It may not be clear to you at first what he wants, but he wants to be angry. If there is a disagreement, and he is mad, then you are mad at him for being such a jerk, then he can be mad at YOU because you weren’t nice to him, which means he doesn’t have to act like an adult towards you. He doesn’t have to do what he is supposed to do, because, like, you are not nice to him!
    So be careful. But think about how you want to feel. Do you want to fight with him? don’t you hate that tight feeling in your stomach that he didn’t do the right thing? Picking fights is also another way for him of not taking responsibility for his actions. For example, the inappropriate pictures on the computer. HE put them on your computer. How can you not find them? You tell him, and he will get mad at you! You shouldn’t have looked! You mentioned it at a bad time! You should be grateful you even have a computer, after all he has done for you! How could you! He is mad, mad mad! But he set you up. He put them on there, knowing you would say something, and then he can yell! You are being “gaslighted”, which means he wants you to not confront him on anything, and to be afraid of his anger, so he can do what he wants.

    If he can upset you, he can feel that he has some power over you. This is not what normal father’s do. Normal fathers do not put these pictures ANYWHERE their children can find them. Your father is not normal. My father is not normal. My father ( my parents are still in the world’s unhappiest marriage, despite his cheating they are still together) knows we are mad at him for his cheating, and since we aren’t that nice to him anymore, he doesn’t want us to come to his house and visit with my mother or eat his food. He picks fights while I am there, so I will get mad and not come back. He loves this, because he does not want to be reminded of his past relationships. He doesn’t like the fact that his kids know that he sucks, so he does mean things so we never come over.

    Your dad may not want to be an active father, so he might pick a fight so you don’t go over there. It is one thing that you chose not to go over there, but if there is a fight, and you get mad, you will feel that some of it is your responsibility to repair the relationship, because then it is about your behavior towards him, not his obnoxious behavior. What a real father would do would WANT to be a parent, even if he was divorced. Your dad may want a little more freedom, and this little easter egg in your computer may help him get that. Parenting is not something you turn on and off. It is wrong for him to do this.

    As a chump kid myself, this is the perfect example of narcissism, self absorbed behavior. The tension, the anxiety, is because you feel torn. Should I tell him how wrong he is and get all mad and have a fight and make him realize he is wrong? Or should I let him go and let him think he gets away with it? It is this boundary crossing that drives people crazy. If it was neighbor who broke into your house and put those picture on the computer and you found them, you would call the police immediately and have a protection order. However, since it is your dad, you are wavering what to do, because, you know, he is going to get MAD, and then you will have to deal with that. See how his anger is a way to control you and make you feel uneasy and not stick up for yourself?

    I would recommend that you show your mom your pictures, and if she doesn’t tell her ex husband to stop with the illegal behavior, you are going to the guidance counselor at school. This behavior is wrong, wrong wrong. You should not be exposed to this at all. When you are talked out of your feelings (your anger) you will start to experience anxiety. His behavior is not about you at all, it is not your responsibility to manage his craziness. To save your sanity, and what I learned here at Chump lady, is to try to go no contact as much as you can. He will not be emotional support for you, he cannot be trusted, and he is not a good dad. I am so sorry, however, use your energy to find people that WILL support you. Tons of hugs. You are brave, and I am so proud that you instinctually know something is wrong and are reaching out for help. Please keep us posted and we have your back! xoxo

  • Mollie,
    Study well. Do your best in school. You will have a better life. Don’t let anyone stop you from being mighty.
    You are special. You are smart!
    You can rip up that A-hole’s father card. No one gets an open invitation to hurt you. Keep developing your sassy personality. You are incredible.

  • Molly

    I was much older than you when my parents divorced, but I understand what you are going through. Before they got divorced, your parents probably acted like, well, parents and most times it was normal, boring, predictable. You knew what to expect. My parent’s never even fought!

    Funny things sometimes happen to people when they get divorced. They act weird. They are self absorbed. They are selfish.They only think about themselves. They act like little kids.

    My parents told me that year that ‘Christmas was cancelled’. They were both so upset – they couldn’t see anything else. They didn’t see there was still a world going on around them. In a word, they were CLUELESS.

    I don’t know what is going on with your Dad. They only one that knows whats going on with your Dad – is well – your Dad. You will never know. And guess what? It is not your job to know.

    What you know — is how this makes you feel. And it is OK to say how you feel: ‘this makes me feel uncomfortable’, ‘this makes me upset’, ‘I am a kid and shouldn’t be hearing this’, ‘this makes me feel sick to my stomach’, etc.

    I know you are grossed out by seeing that porn. It is revolting to think that your Dad would do that. Does it make him a bad person? Honestly – no. He is probably clueless that it was on your computer.

    Your Dad seems CLUELESS. And he will likely be that way for a long time. So, you are going to need to use your words – and say how you feel.

    Keep talking to adults too, especially your Mom, if you don’t know what to do.

    Trust me it sucks for a while but it gets lots and lots better!

    • Clueless adults are the worst people to deal with because they are disengaged and disconnected. At least if you know someone has acted with intended malice, you can appropriately retaliate. When you retaliate with clueless people, they just give you a deer in the headlights stare. They’ve been caught doing something bad but they honestly have no idea why its bad. It’s like they are missing a key developmental brain chip.

  • Hi, Molly, You’ve already gotten the best advice possible about how to deal with this porn thing, both from Chump Lady and the other people on this blog. I wanted to say something different to you, about what it’s like to be a kid with parents who are either too screwed up or too stressed or just too uninformed to see what’s happening to you.

    I am pretty old now, 63–maybe you have a grandparent that age. But when I was your age, my parents lived together but my problems were similar to yours. My parents were still married but fought all the time. My dad kept a gun under his pillow, and it scared me when the two of them fought that somebody might get shot. My father drank, worked all the time, and spent what free time he had doing “good things” in the community. My mother was a stay-at-home mom, which had some good sides to it. But she was what we call here a “narcissist,” meaning she had trouble seeing other people as PEOPLE separate from herself. And she was angry a lot. So, growing up, I was lonely and had to work out most of my problems on my own. Dad was never home, and nothing could be scarier than sharing a problem with Mom, only to watch her go ballistic over who got to be prom queen.

    I’m very glad that you turned to Chump Lady for advice. She’s smart about these things, and a mom herself. And your choice shows just how bright you are, and how much good judgment you have at your age. But it’s important for you to have actual adults in the “real world” looking out for you. My question is: why can’t you talk to your mother? I am not asking that to scold you; I mean that as a real question, for which there can be many good answers. One possibility is that your mom is tuned in and paying attention to you but that you think this information and the cheating before it is too dangerous a subject to bring to her. If that’s the case, and you can talk to your mom about other important things but not this, then you are probably in a good situation.

    If you can’t talk to your mother, think of who might be able to guide and support you without stepping in a hornet nest and making things worse. The toughest part of my life so far was the years you are going through now, from about age 12 to age 19. I felt very alone and was often the target of my mother’s anger toward my father and toward life in general. If you are in that position, I hope you can find someone who can give you a hug if you are scared and sad. You will make it through, but don’t take on adult problems now. Your job is to be a kid, a teenager–to figure out who you are. Not to take care of your parents and their problems. Be safe, Molly. You will be in my prayers.

    • Honestly, my mom is probably the best mom in the whole entire world. She knows that I can tell her anything, and I know it too. Sometimes, I’m not as brave in the real world as I seem here. I told her about this situation immediately, but when I found out my dad was cheating, I was afraid to tell her. Eventually I did, and I’m really glad I did too.

      • That’s so good to hear, Mollie. I think you handled this whole situation just perfectly, and that’s a tribute both to you and your mom. Seeing how much good sense and courage you have at your age is inspiring to all of us. And if you are learning how to handle tough stuff now, you will be in a great position to make healthy decisions when it’s your turn to choose a partner for your life. 🙂

  • Hi, again, Mollie. Glad you reached out to Chump Lady again.

    The advice from CL and Chump Nation is great and I can’t really add to it. I will plant this seed, however, that you might remember when you begin looking at what sort of man you want in your own life.

    You don’t want a man who might cheat. You don’t want a man who is careless about putting inappropriate viewing material near his kids. You don’t want a man who thinks women are just body parts for his pleasure.

    You don’t ever have to settle for a man like that. Here at CL we often say after we’ve been hurt by infidelity that we “have to work on our picker.” And, boy would it have been nice to work on that picker years ago, before we were cheated on, perhaps even before we ever met our partner because often there were red flags that we ignored.

    I would think it would be important for children from families where infidelity or even just a general disrespect is rampant, that you need some extra help to make sure that you don’t bring a man like that into your own life. Unfortunately we tend to repeat in our adult lives what we experienced as kids.

    Mollie, please know this: you can stop the cycle in your family. You can be the one who has a healthy, mutually respectful relationship with your life partner. You can be a better example to your own kids.

    I know all this stuff seems far away to you now, but time really does go fast. Talk to a counselor about how to stand tall and proud and know what you want in this world. In my own community there are groups for girls ages 10 to 18 which address these very issues. Talk to your counselor and find out if any groups like that exist in your city and then get to them!

    • I love you, ML. How I wish some adult had said these words to me way back when. Mollie, hugs to you, and even as you heed the wise advice of CL and CN, I hope you can keep the faith in your own strength and resilience and goodness in general.

  • Mollie,

    How awful! A father ought never to do that to his children. As a father of daughter myself, I am horrified by his horrible behavior. Glad it made you angry. Such a violation (putting on your computer) and objectifying of women is wrong; so, anger is the proper response to such a violation. That’s good healthy emotions there.

    Some solid advice here. Hope you feel comfortable sharing the information with an adult (i.e. your mom) so that you have an advocate.

    Blessings!
    DM

  • Molly, I have been where you are, my dad had numerous affairs with every woman he could get his hands on, my mom’s “friends” the neighbour lady who came and brought him coffee in bed while my mom was at work. I caught him several times, my brother caught him and I can relate to feeling you need to “fix” it because you have knowledge no one else has.
    You cannot fix your father, it is not your job to fix what he screws up. He is going to do this the rest of his life and you will be very busy if you try to do damage control for him. You need to have a life free of this crap. I would venture to guess he is not careful about hiding the evidence because he likes the attention it gets him. Even if you don’t confront him he knows you know that he is this studly guy screwing all these women. Sick? oh you betcha!! but that is nothing you didn’t already know and nothing your mom doesn’t already know.
    I waited until I was in my 30’s before I got so sick of his shit that I stopped talking to him completely and I never regretted it because my life was so drama free after that. I am not saying to stop talking to your dad, I am saying you have to do what you feel comfortable with. I can see where it would be pretty hard to relax and enjoy your time with your father when you never know when you are going to find more evidence of his sexual activity. You can’t even go on your own computer.
    You don’t own him an explanation why you don;t want to see him but if he pushes you then I would be honest. “I don’t appreciate finding your porn etc” end of discussion. It is a statement not a question. If he wants to blame whoever let him do it to a dead phone line. Hang up, walk away. You know the truth, he knows the truth and the women in his life have found out the truth, he can lie all he likes, it does not make it true.
    I am sorry you are dealing with such a dysfunctional father, thankfully your mom was smart enough to get away from him. I just pray that you don’t grow up believing all men are like this, or thinking that it is your job to “fix” the men you will some day date. No one can fix someone else, no one should even try and it is never anyone elses fault someone does what they do. We all have freewill.
    My ex had video taped us having sex without my knowledge. He had it on his laptop and had his laptop on the bed automatically scrolling through pictures (he never did this, he always locked his laptop but this one day he left it and went out to the barn) his son went in the bedroom for something and was in there a long time. I asked what he was doing and he came out blushing and said, “Oh just Dad’s porn”. I went in out of curiosity and all of a sudden on the screen pops up a mans back. I look and my God it is my ex, I am thinking “who the hell is he with?” I look closer and OMG that is our couch, OMG that is my ankle tattoo!!
    I was mortified!!!! When I confronted my ex he was not mortified at all, he was quite pleased with himself. They are called narcissists and they need attention, like a child who wants attention and misbehaves when mom gets on the phone the narcissist doesn’t care what kind of attention it is, anger, love, jealousy, repulsion, as long as it is attention directed at him. They all like to think they are God’s gift to women and Mr Studly Hungwell, and they are so lacking in boundaries and social graces that they don’t even realize how inappropriate and sick their actions are. To confront him on it will only feed his ego. The best response is no response if you can manage that.
    Good luck to you sweetie, don’t take this on, it is not yours to pack.
    Hugs
    Carrie

  • Molly…Someone I know waited until she was 22 years old to tell anyone how upset she was to keep finding her father’s porn on household computers. You are so wise to get support for this awful experience now.

    I have watched my (now) young adult daughters struggle with their relationship with their father and his cheating and other poor sexual boundaries. When they get confused or believe they have to rescue or fix him, a good friend advised them to say – out loud to themselves – what they are thinking and feeling. So maybe for you it is: “I believe cheating is wrong. Finding my father’s homemade porn makes me feel______(fill in your word). I do not want to be exposed to this ever again.”

    That is a helpful tool. But do not stop there!

    Chump Lady gives good advice about talking to trusted adults (such as counselors) who can support you. They can help you identify normal sexual boundaries and a healthy father-daughter relationship. Right now, it sounds like you are feeling anxious being at his home or with him because of the porn. That is a boundary! With a team of trusted adults, a plan can be made to increase your feelings of safety and bring more normalcy into your life. You deserve it.

    All of us here in Chump Nation believe and support you!

  • Nancy,
    Bravo. If my child ever comes on a site like this…I hope to god she can find someone like you….You may have saved a soul today. And for all the crap that you have ever had to deal with… know that you were able to offer a part of yourself to save another. I am so very thankful for your input today as a mom who has to deal with an Ex who routinely does this to my child. Thank you for sharing and thank you for your bravery.

    • Are you talking to me? 🙂 I owe Chump Lady and her nation a thousand thank yous! As a child of a cheating narcissist, it took me forever to figure out what happened to me emotionally growing up (or what didn’t happen, take your pick). I was in therapy for a long time, and came across the book “The wizard of Oz and other narcissists” and I finally was diagnosed!!! I told my therapist about it, and gave her my copy to borrow. She said she wasn’t going to read it. A few months after I left therapy, she called me back at home and wanted to know the name of the book! I think being a child of narcissists is often diagnosed as depression, or just general malaise. It’s like a confusion you can’t clear. I didn’t know what my feelings were, since I wasn’t allowed to express them.
      Long story short, my parents are on the 52nd year of their bad marriage. My childhood was a backdrop of the drama of this crappy marriage, and you can see a lot of kids here, their childhood is a backdrop of a crappy marriage and dramatic divorce. Drama Drama Drama! Chump Lady told me to walk away. I’m 50 years old and talk often with my siblings about “what happened to us”. We decided that we all suffer from internalized anger and anxiety in some combination. The good news about me is I am a very determined person, and I get along with everyone except manipulative people. I can call them out on their shit. I have two daughters in high school and I am teaching them the things I learned the hard way. To quote another book, “The sociopath next door” is the sign of a sociopath is repeated lying. If someone lies to you more than once, they are a sociopath. I hope you work that in with your child, who will have to grieve the loss of a normal caring parent (your ex), however, your child will be just fine because she will have the strength to call out the liars. Good luck.

      • Nancy, until I got to this site, I had never met another survivor of a narcissist parent who KNEW that was the problem. I’ve had 3 good therapists and have been evaluated for insurance by a 4th–have heard “PTSD,” “depression,” “complicated grief,” “co-dependency,” etc. I’m certain that all 4 of them recognized my mother was a narcissist (the first said I might as well have been raised by wolves). I figured out she was a narcissist but I really didn’t know what that meant until I came here after DDay and started to understand that it’s more than just not being able to see that others are really people.

        We have a reason to be very proud that we are not passing on this terrible legacy.

  • Mollie,

    I don’t think I can adequately address your dad’s behavior. I also don’t want to say the wrong thing to you. I am inclined to believe his actions are deliberate and you need to bring this up to your mother because it is completely inappropriate.

    As for spending less time with him, exactly what Chump Lady said: You’re busy.

    You are a very bright and articulate young women. Keep that good head on your shoulders. This has nothing to do with you. Do not let your Dad, the divorce drama, or anything else pull you away from your good judgment.

    Always trust yourself.

    Always remember to do what is best for Mollie. That does not mean you are self-centered, selfish, or unkind. It means you understand boundaries.

  • Hi Mollie:

    First, you are Mighty!!!

    Second, you are so right. Your dad should NOT leave porn on any computer that you and your brother use. This is not cool! It is 100% his business if he wants to view porn when you’re not around, but it is not right for him to leave it on the computer you use!

    So, you’ve gotten good advice. 1) Tell your mom, and 2) try limiting your contact with your dad. I love the strategy of being busy one weekend a month, then a couple of weekends. Make sure your brother is busy, too.

    In the meantime, maybe figure out what kind of relationship you’d like with your dad. Maybe you’d rather that you see him for pizza and a movie instead of spending time at his house. Some people aren’t good to be around for more than a couple of hours, and your dad may be one of these. Most people will behave well in public. This sets the stage for your future life. Maybe when you’re grown up, you’ll visit him, but more likely you’ll stay with your mom while you’re in town, but go out to dinner a couple of times with him to catch up.

    Third, see if your mom will support the idea of you and your brother doing some family therapy. Your dad is disordered. This whole business of putting porn where you can find it is all about how he’s trying to find out how far you’ll let him go.

    See, the last time you wrote, you mentioned how you and your brother found out that he was cheating because he’d been careless with his phone. But you were worried that he would get mad at you for snooping. This time, he’s left porn on a computer that he knows you and your brother use. If you say anything to him, he’ll probably get mad at you for snooping.

    So if you don’t say anything to him, then that means he will probably try to do even more crap. If you do say something, he’ll get angry. This is a losing situation.

    That’s why you need to talk with an adult. Definitely tell your mom. Also, mention it to your counselor at school. This is where the grown-ups get to step up and step in. Screenshot the folder contents where you found the porn. Make sure you have the dates show. If your dad is putting porn on that computer only a couple of days before you and your brother visit, you know he’s doing this just so that you do discover it. Screenshot that, too, and show it to an adult.

    Best of luck to you, and please keep us posted!

  • Dear Mollie:

    I’m a mom to a daughter who is now older than you (almost 23), but her dad started “acting out” when she was about your age. He didn’t do the same kinds of stuff as your dad (what he did, instead, was tune her out completely)–but that’s not the point. It was hurtful, it was messed up, and it was really hard for her to deal with.

    I admire your moxie in both identifying the problem out loud (not hiding it) and in looking for help. It’s so humiliating to have a weirdo parent! And you, brave girl, are already finding good ways to help yourself out of this mess. I hope there are other adults in your life you can turn to for help–mom, aunt or uncle, other relatives, even a special teacher.

    My daughter became very depressed before I figured out there was really something bad going on, but once I did, I tried very hard to get her help–help in addition to me. I think it is very, very helpful to have somebody you can trust, from outside the family, that you can talk to about this stuff.

    (And yes, I think it totally sucks that you need to find help growing up, because your dad can’t manage adequate fatherhood. Just remember: It’s NOT your fault, we don’t pick our parents. Sometimes surviving them is a triumph.)

    All of which is a long winded way of sharing with you that my daughter is OK, that despite a rocky road, she grew up fine, has healthy relationships, and is figuring out what to do with her precious life. You can get there too, and I think you have a head start. You are already a role model of strength and clear thinking. Best of luck and lots of ((hugs))

  • I guess I just needed to add my two cents….

    I think it is a lot harder to tell the father you are busy and find other things to do. I tried that numerous times. When I was 13 and my best friend turned 16, her friends threw her a party at her house with her parents home (she lived down the street from my Mom’s house). Well, it was during my “summer vacation time” with my dad. My father spent this time working in his basement office while I was left to do whatever. When I got the call about the party and asked him if I could go, I was told no, it was our vacation time – even though he was spending it “working” and I was left alone. He lived 15 minutes away from my Mom.

    I just feel that it is harder as a 13 year old girl to “tell” your parents that you are busy. After all, they are supposed to be adults and what pos cheater isn’t a bit controlling?? My son is 13 and if he “told” me he was going somewhere that would be a problem with me. Kids need to ask. I just feel this puts Mollie in a very tough spot. Best to talk to trusted adults or school councilor and disclose. As someone else said, then there is no secret.

  • Molly,

    I’m so sorry you’re going through this. It was keen of you to see this as a problem worth doing something about. You reached out for some help and that is something to be proud of.

    Both of my parents were like your dad, except that leaving porn out was one of the least damaging things they did. I know how tough it is to be on the receiving end of some bad, bad parental behavior. I heard anguish in your letter, and I recognize that feeling. It’s really tough to be young and to know that your dad isn’t OK.

    None of this is your fault. You did, and can do, absolutely nothing that justifies your father’s anger problems or his bad choices, like putting dirty pictures on your computer. It’s not OK that he did that. It’s 100% on him. Grown-ups sometimes make mistakes, but it’s the healthy grown-ups who own those mistakes and fixes them.

    Molly, I think it’s really important that we listen to our feelings so we can figure out what they are telling us. You know what? I think you’re pretty good at this already! It’s a skill worth developing because it will helps us live a satisfying and healthy life. My guess is that fear of your father’s angry reactions (and his pattern of this behavior in the past) is your body’s way of telling you that your dad is not a healthy grown-up. And it’s perfectly OK to want to put some distance between yourself and unhealthy people…..even if its your dad, whose supposed to love you in a healthy way. It sounds like he’s not capable of it (right now and possibly never, but who knows?) and for that, I am truly sorry.

    This is definitely something your mom needs to be involved with. At 13, you are too young to be going this alone. But, this can be good practice for the future. It’s an unfortunate fact that unhealthy people are all around us and you will need to learn to deal with them sooner or later. Others have given great strategic advice about how to handle this.

    The most important thing you can do is to learn to love and take care of yourself. You sound like a kid with a smart noggin, a warm, loving heart and great character. Focus on the good in your life and try to take excellent care of the parts that hurt. ((((HUGS))))

  • Hi Molly, I am a licensed guidance counselor who works with middle school students. You are a minor who has been exposed to porn by your father. This is NOT okay! Please talk to a counselor at school who can advocate for you and your brother’s best interests. It will take the onus off your mother and put the issue in the hands of your state’s department for children and families. You shouldn’t have to visit your father if you are uncomfortable. And coming across porn with people you know in it on your computer would be uncomfortable for anyone.

    Adults who expose minors to porn are definitely not acting in your best interest. Whether he meant for you to see it (I suspect he did) or not is irrelevant. Knowing your ages and what you’ve been through, this amounts to emotional abuse.

    Please do not delay in seeking help from people who can act on your behalf. Your mom might be afraid to incur your father’s wrath. But school counselors aren’t afraid of that at all. In fact, that is the reason we became counselors; to advocate for students who can’t advocate for themselves. Your visits might need to be supervised, which will at least protect you from such degrading and inappropriate filth.

    Porn is degrading and dehumanizing. Real love and intimacy is completely different, trust me.

    This is too big an issue for you. Please seek help as soon as you can.

    • I second this Mollie. The more support you can get the better. And I second what Tempest said above too about making sure your mom also has the evidence needed to be turned over to the courts to show what your dad has done. It’s so not okay. I’m glad your mom was supportive.

  • Dear Mollie,
    I have a daughter very close in age to you. My daughter is a bit younger. I tell her that she has to stand up to her dad and draw her boundaries. Tell someone, Mollie. A teacher, school counselor, coach, and most importantly, tell your mom. You are an incredible writer, and sound like a great kid. But you have to find the courage deep within your soul to stand up for yourself. This is going to take time, patience, and courage–things that young people are not known to possess in general. However, I think you possess them. You have the courage to write to us here. I know getting advice from strangers is easy, and looking someone in the eye is hard, but you’ve got to do this. Because you do know right from wrong. Tell you story, Mollie, and tell it loud. Because you deserve to live in an environment that is safe where you’re happy. It doesn’t sound like your current environment is it. Tell it proud and loud, Mollie. Stand up for yourself and what it right for YOU!

    Best Wishes,
    Leia

  • Hi Mollie,

    I’m so sorry that you have to know about any of this sweetheart. It breaks my heart that some of your childhood has been stolen because of these things you’ve had to learn about.

    Please take chump lady’s advice. You need to talk to an adult like your mom or a teacher and tell them how you’re feeling. You love your mom and you don’t want your dad to be mad at her and that’s very noble but she is the adult here and this is her job. If she knew, she wouldn’t want you shouldering this burden alone.

    I am so impressed with how smart and strong you are but I wish more than anything that you can eventually just worry about what you’re going to wear to school or who you have a crush on this week. Please seek help because you’re trying to deal with an adult problem and you shouldn’t have to.

    Chump Nation is here for you and I know everyone here wants you to feel safe.

    Sending hugs your way.

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