DEAR ABBY: My young-adult daughter, "Ellen," dated for several years before meeting "Tom," to whom she is engaged. Before she fell in love with him, Ellen cut short several relationships because the men wanted to have sex, and she was saving herself for marriage.
Tom and Ellen's wedding is in two months, and we just received a letter from her informing us that she is pregnant! In her letter, she said she would understand if we wanted to disown her.
I called her immediately and told her that we love her, we know she loves Tom, and everything will be all right. Although I know she heard me, she still seemed upset.
Abby, I have never shared this with my daughter, but her father and I made love before we were married. He has been the only man in my life, and I never felt hypocritical teaching Ellen to wait for sex until after marriage. Now that I see how bad she's feeling, I'm wondering if it would make her feel better to know I understand more than she might guess. Should I tell her? -- WANTS TO HELP
DEAR WANTS: Since your husband is half the equation, ask him if the "secret" should be revealed to your daughter. I'm not at all certain it would make your daughter feel better to hear that she had been held to a standard that you didn't meet. In fact, she might resent it and feel she had been misled. Before reaching a decision, read on:
DEAR ABBY: I'm writing this letter for all of those well-meaning people who subscribe to the notion, "What he or she doesn't know, won't hurt them."
After my father was killed at his restaurant during a robbery (at age 48), my mother and I were at his attorney's office to start proceedings, and the question of "date of marriage" came up. Mom said, "Aug. 23, 1925," and I said, "No, Mom -- it's 1924." She turned to me and said, "Hush. We'll talk about this later."
I was 22 years old when I learned I had escaped illegitimacy by just 34 days! First I felt betrayed, then foolish because in mom's large family, I was the only one who was unaware of this fact of my birth. When I asked her, "Why, Mom, why?" she said, "Because Dad made me promise you would never know of it in his lifetime."
Apparently this proud man could not bear the thought that I might consider him imperfect. It was easy for Mom to go along with it because she always tried to protect me by withholding unpleasantness.
Abby, all this happened 50 years ago, and I have long since forgiven them. But I have not altogether forgotten that I was deceived by those I trusted most. -- CAN'T FORGET IN L.A.
DEAR CAN'T FORGET: It is for that specific reason that I advise parents never to lie to their children.