Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR READERS: I’ve stepped away from my column for the week while I put the finishing touches on my new book, which will be published in the fall. Please enjoy these “Best Of” columns in my absence. I’ll be back with your fresh questions and answers next week.
DEAR AMY: I am a happily married 27-year-old woman about to have my first baby, and I am terrified because it isn’t my husband’s baby. Last spring, another woman and I took a trip to the Bahamas. At the hotel, I had a massage and was seduced by the masseur. I tried to resist, but I guess I got carried away. I sort of cooperated once things got started. After some prenatal tests, my doctor recently told me that the baby’s blood type is different from both my husband’s and mine, which means the baby is not his. When the baby is born, it will be very obvious: My husband and I are white, and the masseur is black. I can’t tell my husband; I think that he would leave me. It’s too late for an abortion. What can I do? Please advise me.
Pregnant and Scared
DEAR SCARED: I appreciate the fact that you are assuming some responsibility for participating in this sexual encounter, which from the way you describe it sounds less like seduction than coercion (and possibly assault) to me. Or is this how you are justifying your own choices? Only you can know.
This hotel employee should not be seducing, coercing or having sex with hotel guests during massage sessions. (Giving a consenting adult a cell number and hooking up off the premises is another matter.) If he coerced or forced you to have sex with him, then you should have gone to hotel management and the police immediately in order to prevent him from preying on other hotel guests.
In addition to other very tough decisions that you need to make fairly quickly, you also should be immediately tested for STDs.
You have to tell your husband about this. You simply have no choice. However, it would be helpful for you to rehearse this conversation with a trusted friend or professional counselor. You and your husband should discuss this in a neutral environment. Planned Parenthood offers pregnancy and adoption counseling. Counselors working for this agency have seen it all, and you will not be judged. Your local Planned Parenthood office will refer you to a social worker, and will be by your side while you and your husband walk this very difficult path.
Check your local listings or plannedparenthood.org for a clinic near you. (January 2007)
DEAR AMY: My daughter just turned 16 and received a new car. I’m so worried about her. Every day I watch the news and hear about a new accident, and I worry that one day it will be her in one of those accidents. Without her knowing, I installed a tracking device in her car so that I can monitor where she is. I’ve also recently started reading her journal and going through her drawers to see if she is using drugs or having sex. I know I’m going into her private space, but I just want to make sure that she’s OK. Should I be doing something differently?
DEAR MERCEDES: You should be doing many things differently.
Installing a tracking device will not make your daughter a safer driver. Knowing where the car is won’t protect her from the perils of the road, which are considerable for 16-year-olds.
A 16-year-old girl should not have a new car before you’re confident of her driving. She might be better off using your family car in a limited way until you and she are confident. Studies of teen drivers show that the crash rate decreases as their age increases.
You should get your daughter to drive you places whenever possible. Let her face various challenging situations with you in the car. She should also strictly adhere to your local laws involving the number of passengers a teen may have in the car. The more passengers, the higher the risk.
Don’t read your daughter’s private journals. She has a right to her own thoughts and expressions. Unless you have some compelling reason to suspect that she is taking drugs or having sex, you shouldn’t be going through her property.
Your daughter’s eagerness to earn and maintain your trust will help her to make safe and sound choices. Her choices are more important and a better safeguard than any tracking device that you could ever install. (May 2007)