DEAR HARRIETTE: My parents recently divorced after 25 years of marriage. It was an amicable split, which was nice for the family because it didn’t cause many problems. Now that they live separately, they both have their own, separate, family gatherings, and a lot of these gatherings fall on the same days. This had been tough for me because each parent thinks I should be at their party over the other’s. It’s getting to the point where I don’t want to go to either of them. I try to split up and spend time at both, but it’s never good enough. I try telling them, but they don’t listen to me. What do you think I should do? -- Annoyed Daughter, Seattle
DEAR ANNOYED DAUGHTER: While the divorce may have been amicable, the aftermath is at best unthoughtful as it relates to you. Tell them you need them to pick separate dates for events or take turns with holiday celebrations. Point out that if they continue to try to guilt you into being with one or the other of them, the result is that they will end up pushing you away from both of them. You may need to stay away for a few cycles of gatherings until they get the point.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m 21 years old, and I’m pregnant with my boyfriend's child. When I told him the news, he immediately freaked out and told me he wanted me to have an abortion. I couldn’t believe the way he reacted to the situation. I was scared and nervous when I found out, too, but I didn’t react the way he did. I know it’s scary, but I never even considered having an abortion. I want to keep the baby whether he wants to be in the picture or not. Given the way he reacted, how do you think I should tell him that I’m keeping the baby? -- 21 and Pregnant, Milwaukee
DEAR 21 AND PREGNANT: I believe in a woman’s right to choose, which includes choosing to keep a child. What you need to think through is how you will care for your baby. You cannot count on your boyfriend, though you should tell him that you intend to keep the child.
You need to figure out next steps. If you intend to raise the child, how will you be able to afford to take care of it? Do you have any support that you can count on? Do you have a job? What can you do to be able to manage? You have to be practical and realistic now.
If you do not have the support system you need, consider giving up your child for adoption. I know that this can be a stressful consideration, but there are reputable adoption agencies that do an excellent job of placing children with loving, capable families. Be still long enough to process your choices. Discuss them with your boyfriend and your family. Make an informed decision.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)