Daughter unprepared for motherhood

Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

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DEAR AMY: My 37-year-old daughter is three months pregnant. Her boyfriend doesn't want the baby, but she does. Their relationship is on the verge of disintegrating, so chances are she won't get much, if any, support (moral or financial) from him. She is in no position to support this child. She works part-time in a restaurant, bringing in no more than $100 a week. Furthermore, she has just been accepted into the nursing program of a college and intends to start classes in two months. I think she is completely unrealistic. She's an adult, but she doesn't seem to be thinking rationally. I don't see any hope for this situation. (I'm a retired 71-year-old living in a different state from my daughter.) What do you recommend or suggest? I haven't told her my reservations.

-- Flummoxed

DEAR FLUMMOXED: The usual template is for the single expectant mother to freak out, panic and worry about her future -- but you have put voice to the raw reality of what it can be like to watch a loved one step into this tender and life-changing status. This is scary for you.

You don't mention why your daughter has been so underemployed, but her choice to go to nursing school is a sign she is charging forward positively.

Do not share your reservations with your daughter. You realize how challenging her life will be, and she either doesn't realize it or she is optimistically moving forward with a determination to do her best.

Remember that a baby's life unfolds one day at a time. Thinking too far ahead is overwhelming.

This is the time for you to bury your second-guessing and declare: "I'm here for you. I'd like to help." You need to be a gentle, supportive presence. Why? Because it is best for the mother and the child to start their family life feeling emotionally secure and supported.

Perhaps you can move in with her for the first few weeks of the baby's life to help out.