Dear Amy: I'm a student living away from home. My parents have had some marriage difficulties. About two years ago, they told my sibling and me that they were thinking of separating.
At Christmas this year, my parents announced that my father would be moving out of the house. The next day, they took this back, and it was very confusing to us. Last summer my mother ran away from our home for the night. She lied about the trip, saying that it was for business, but we soon found out that it wasn't.
Since then I have been very suspicious that she is cheating. I have logged on to her Facebook account to read her private messages. I discovered that she is having "sexy" conversations with a man in town and sending him nude photographs.
I feel very guilty about invading her privacy, but I feel more upset at my mother for doing this while still married to my father. I consider this cheating.
I'm afraid to bring up this topic with my mother because it involves my disclosing information that I invade her privacy on a frequent basis (to check these Facebook messages). And I don't want to tell my father to save him from this pain. I feel quite guilty for not telling him and also afraid of my mother's wrath if I tell her.
What should I do? Which one do I bring this up with first? Or should I stay out of it?
— Distressed daughter
Dear Daughter: Marriage is complicated. So, sometimes, is cheating. But don't double-down on your mother's cheating by being dishonest and sneaky.
I understand your motives, but you are jumping to conclusions based on evidence with absolutely no context.
If you had access to the whole truth you might find: Your father already knows about this, and they are trying to work things out. Or perhaps your father's own Facebook messages are also inappropriate and adulterous.
Even if your conclusions are 100% correct, are you prepared and able to leap into the middle of your parents' relationship to confront and/or comfort them? This is waaaaaay above your "pay grade."
I suggest you tell your mother that you are aware of her activity on Facebook. Assume that she will be appalled at your sneakiness. Tell her you are confused by what they have put you through.
This is a big mess, but your parents — not you — are going to have to figure things out.
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