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Woman dreads telling parents she's pregnant

DEAR AMY: Recently my husband and I decided we wanted to have another baby. A few days ago we learned that I'm pregnant. This would normally be a happy occasion, but the problem is my parents. They ruined my whole first pregnancy. They were angry from the beginning, telling me to get an abortion up until I was almost five months along. At every chance they could, they would tell me how much I was ruining my life and how I would never accomplish anything. I admit I was young (20 at the time), but I was married and in college, and my husband had a great job that allowed us to live on our own. I'm terrified to tell them about the new baby. I dread it. I want a stress-free pregnancy, but I can't get the reminders of how cruel they were the first time out of my head. How can I approach this in a way that is positive for everyone?

-- Expectant

DEAR EXPECTANT: Don't make any announcements until you are at least three months pregnant; this gives you time to enjoy your pregnancy privately with your husband (you might want to wait longer, or not tell them at all).

Remember that this is what you want. Your first pregnancy might have been unplanned; you were younger and more vulnerable to your parents' cruelty.

When you decide to tell them, it might be best for you to do so over the phone. Say, "I have really great news -- Brad and I are very excited that I'm pregnant, due in July." Steel yourself for their worst. You might want to end the call. Of course it is possible that they have changed, but if not you will have to create a boundary. You should not have to tolerate comments such as they made last time. If they can't handle themselves, you can simply decline to discuss it further with them. One of the privileges of adulthood is that your parents don't get to tell you what to do.


DEAR AMY: I'm going to see my half-sister's father while visiting my sister on vacation. This man was my stepfather from when I was 7 to when I was 16. He was like a real dad, but after he and my mother divorced, he never responded to any of my letters and cards over the following 20 years. I gave up sending cards, etc., and discovered my real father, whom I called "Dad." My question is: What should I call this man while visiting with my sister? I can't call him "Dad" anymore.

-- Estranged

DEAR ESTRANGED: Call him by his first name. I'm sorry about the circumstances behind this estrangement, and I hope that meeting him again will bring some resolution for you.

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