DEAR Abby: This is in response to "Ready-or-Not in Texas," the 17-year-old who is contemplating tricking her boyfriend into fatherhood. Two years ago, I was the victim of such manipulation.
At the time, my girlfriend and I were both 30. We had been together just four months. She presumed such tactics would speed up our courtship and land her a husband. It backfired. Not only did she experience a painful miscarriage, but also the breakup of our relationship because of trust issues. -- CLOSE SHAVE IN WISCONSIN
DEAR CLOSE: You're right. Since she became pregnant on purpose, you were manipulated. That letter brought in hundreds of responses. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: "Ready-or-Not" needs to recognize the things she'll have to sacrifice if she gets pregnant. Does she go to parties? No more! Late nights with girlfriends? Nope! Romantic dates with her boyfriend? That's over. She'll never do anything spontaneous again.
I love kids. Then I spent a weekend baby-sitting a 3-year-old and an infant. It was then I realized that I couldn't even jump into a shower without planning it in advance. As I anxiously struggled to listen to the baby monitor over the sound of the shower, I knew I wasn't ready.
And I haven't even addressed the issue of money. Even if you have the best baby shower in the world, there are still the day-to-day expenses -- diapers, ointments, baby wipes, clothes, more diapers, food, bottles, toys, pacifiers, more diapers, and baby-proofing the house. She'll be doing all of it alone if she tries putting something over on her boyfriend. -- RENA IN L.A.
DEAR RENA: Thank you for a bracing dose of reality.
DEAR ABBY: Instead of getting pregnant, that girl should volunteer at a church day care, a hospital children's ward, a homeless shelter -- or even do some baby-sitting and earn a little money.
She didn't say it, but she may be looking for a "quick fix" to get out of a bad home life. If she has a child, she will just be replacing one bad situation with another. I had a friend who tried that. She ended up stuck at home with her baby -- no husband, no boyfriend, no future and angry parents.
I hope "Ready-or-Not" talks to someone before it's too late. -- BEEN THERE AND WAITED IN S.C.
DEAR WAITED: I, too, hope she finds someone to talk to -- her school nurse, counselor or another trusted adult.
DEAR ABBY: I had a child when I was 17. I wasn't ready and I have missed out on a lot because of it. Please urge that 17-year-old to think of her future. Children are the greatest gifts. They are little miracles. Kids are NOT something to play with that can be put away when someone is tired of being a parent and wants to go back to being young and carefree. -- AMANDA IN FLORIDA
DEAR AMANDA: You have stated it beautifully. Having a child is a decision that should be made rationally between both parties involved. It does not automatically bring a couple closer. A man who is tricked into parenthood will not only be resentful toward the person who tricked him, but also toward the child he will be obligated to support until it is an adult.