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Husband Is a Teacher But Has ‘Mentorship’ Relationships with Students

My husband(57) is a Phys Ed teacher and sports coach. He deals with thousands of students every day, but he always seems to have his favourites — normally girls of 18-20 who pour out their problems to him about being raped by family members/friends and appeal to his fatherly/protective side. There was even a case where the young girl was sending nude photos to him on her phone — which unfortunately my teenage daughter happened to see. We all went for counselling a few years ago, but now he has this relationship with a young girl who he coached softball last year. I picked up some vibes last year and challenged him but he said they were very close and he was helping her with some issues as she has been raped by her uncle at an early age.

Anyway, in Jan I felt he was on his phone too much again, and I looked at a current conversation when he went to the kitchen, and it was with this young girl again and the content was not appropriate – in my opinion (dreaming about him etc, sending love and hugs etc). We had a huge argument and he assured me that he would delete her off his phone – AGAIN – and that he was just helping her through some issues. BUT THEN in June this year I happened to see that her name was back on his phone and he said that she was now working in the Tuck Shop at the school (she left in 2014) and had also asked him if she could coach softball for the younger team. He had not told me as he did not want to HURT ME!!! that there was nothing going and that they were close as a father and daughter. So she is back on his phone and with him quite a lot for softball etc.

I told him I was really not happy about the situation, and he went wild that I was looking at his phone again, and assured me that she was just a coach and that she was just like a daughter to him even though I saw 30 whatsapps in ONE DAY. I feel like a stalker now as I have her on my phone (not that she knows) & I see that they are on whatsapp at the same time – I feel terrible and really don’t know how to tackle this – am I over reacting. I a finding it hard to trust him. (From South Africa)

You’re not overreacting. It’s typically very much frowned upon for that close of a relationship between teacher and student. It is far too much contact — and clearly inappropriate. But the most difficult part about this is that it really bothers you, and he is choosing to maintain the relationship rather than honor his wife. Also his past behavior indicates that he has obvious difficulties in setting boundaries.

It is time for couple counseling. You may want to talk to the therapist you had earlier to help sort this through. I would do this sooner rather than later. Without a third/party intervention by a therapist, it doesn’t sound like he has the ability to properly manage himself sound students.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan

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