Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Pregnant 18-Year-Old Unsure How to Talk to Family

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am 18 years old, and I am currently one month pregnant. The only people who know are my friends, my boyfriend and his parents. I have been keeping it a secret from my family. My parents are from Kenya and are very traditional people, which is why I can’t get myself to tell them about my pregnancy. My family doesn’t believe in abortion, but I’m not opposed to it -- I am so young and have my future to think about.

My boyfriend and his family said they are fully on my side, no matter what I decide, but they think I should inform my parents. I’m scared to disappoint my family because I know they wanted more for me, but they will not support my decision to have an abortion if that’s what I want. I'm unsure of what to do now. Should I tell them, or should I take care of this on my own? -- Confused, Dallas

DEAR CONFUSED: First, you need to make up your mind about what you want to do. I realize how difficult this decision is for many people, including you. I believe in the right for women to choose. That said, I also believe that life is sacred. A pregnancy should be taken seriously and contemplated fully before you make any decision. You need to be clear in your head and heart about what you want and what you can manage.

Out of respect for your parents, it would be thoughtful to tell them; however, if you believe you are going to have an abortion and you think it would crush them, it may be kinder to keep it to yourself. In this case, you should assess whether your boyfriend’s parents will be willing to not get involved and keep it a secret. I know how tough this moment is for you. Be reflective and consider your life. Talk to your boyfriend and play out different scenarios. Pray on it, too. Then decide. You don’t have much time.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My mother has criticized everything I’ve done since I turned 13. Now I’m 35 years old, and she still tries to tell me what to do. She tells me that my life’s a mess and that I should lose weight. She also tells me how to raise my children. I’m a grown woman, and she makes me feel like a child. Whenever I think I’m doing something good, my mother makes me feel the complete opposite. I value her opinion a lot, but it’s getting to be too much. How do I change her before I completely push her out of my life? -- At an Impasse, Denver

DEAR AT AN IMPASSE: Take a step back and evaluate your life. Think about the things your mother has said to you and, to the best of your ability, consider each one. Do you need to lose weight? Are her points about your child-rearing relevant? If she is giving you good advice but you don’t like the way she is delivering the message, tell her as much. Explain that it’s hard for you to take her suggestions when it feels like she’s criticizing you all the time. Tell her you respect her opinion, but you need to stand on your own two feet -- with her support, but not her judgment.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)