DEAR HARRIETTE: I am at a loss on how to express my concerns to my cousin. She has gone through some serious emotional trauma at the hands of her parents, and I have witnessed firsthand how she hasn’t fully healed or even addressed those issues seriously. My cousin has been talking about having children, but the thought of her potentially projecting her unresolved issues onto children terrifies me. To make matters worse, she is not even in a committed relationship with the man she wants to have children with. I think she needs to get serious therapy before even entertaining the idea of having kids. I want to express my concern without coming off as intrusive or insensitive, and I'm not sure how to go about it. What do you recommend I do? -- Concerned Cousin
DEAR CONCERNED COUSIN: This is delicate territory, so tread lightly. Ask your cousin for permission to speak freely about something that is on your mind. With her blessing, tell her how beautiful it is that she wants to have children and remind her of what a huge responsibility it is. Suggest that as she prepares herself for the possibility, she may want to consider going to therapy to address some of the trauma that she experienced as a child so that she can learn tools to work through her challenges as well as strategies for how to be a healthy parent.
If you have ever had therapy, tell her how it helped you. Or you may know of a friend who benefited. You cannot make her do it, but you can encourage her to prepare as best she can for her future child.