Ask Mary Jo
Pregnancy will reveal itself
Q. My girlfriend just found out she’s pregnant. I know. We should have been more careful. I’m going to stick by her. I live with my dad, and he’s got my back. He was real cool when I told him. He said waiting would have been good, but it’s not like we’re 14. We graduate this year. My question deals with when to tell her mom. Her parents just had a bad divorce, and her mom is pretty much a mess. My girlfriend thinks we should wait until after Christmas to tell her. I think we should do it now. What do you think?
Mary Jo’s response:
Pregnancy eventually reveals itself. At some point her mom will know. How will her mom react when she realizes the pregnancy was hidden for months?
Simple math will reveal your deception. When I was a young, a family friend gave birth only six months after her wedding. My mom tried to tell me the baby was premature, but even at 13 I realized that 8 pounds was not a typical preemie baby’s birth weight. Your girlfriend’s mom may feel disrespected when she realizes you delayed sharing.
Another concern deals with how many people know about the pregnancy. Your father obviously knows. Has he shared the news with anyone? Do your school friends know? Did your girlfriend tell her best friend?
How would her mom feel if she hears the news from someone else?
Sharing this news will take courage. Putting it off will only add drama. I suggest helping your girlfriend tell her mom. Share your commitment to her and your baby.
My staff provides outstanding educational mentoring to young parents. The program is free. With your permission I’ll give your number to one of my team and help you enroll. We can help you make healthy choices, finish school, find a job, plan for after high school and parent well. We can also meet with your girlfriend’s mom and offer her guidance as she adjusts to becoming a grandmother.
Positive parenting is not determined by age. You can be an excellent father. Let’s meet soon.
Q. Is it wrong to know you need to break up with someone because it isn’t working but you think you should wait because the holidays are so close and you don’t want to ruin them for the person?
Mary Jo’s response:
Breaking up isn’t easy, even if the decision is mutual. Moving away from a relationship can be hurtful. In your situation, your partner doesn’t even know the relationship is in trouble.
Ask yourself a few questions: If the scenario was reversed, would you want to know? How would you want to be told? Would you want to wait until after the holidays?
Have you considered how you’ll react to the holidays if you know you’re pretending to care about this person? Would it be kinder to end the relationship now and deal with the pain? Will gifts be expected? Will you be sharing family time? How uncomfortable would you be if your partner assumed all was well and bought a nice present for you? How will your partner react when the truth is revealed?
While waiting may seem kind, I think honesty now would be less difficult in the long run. You’re only delaying the break-up, and you may be setting your partner up for more hurt.
Trust, integrity, respect, honesty and good communication are foundations of healthy relationships; these concepts are also foundations for living well. I believe a break-up should be done with respect and kindness.
Everyone seems to be in love this time of year. Every person I hang out with has a boyfriend. What’s wrong with me? I’m feeling like I want a boyfriend at Christmas, even if it doesn’t last.
Mary Jo’s response
Being alone can be difficult. I think most people can relate to longing for companionship at some point in their lives. Your challenge deals with the way our culture has changed. Nothing is wrong with you.
In my opinion, childhood has become truncated (shortened). Sixth-graders often worry about problems 10th-graders were concerned about 10 years ago. In the last five years, young people have really changed. Middle schoolers are often interested in teen or adult activities.
It saddens me to hear how being alone makes you feel. At 13, you should hang out with friends who aren’t trying to grow up so quickly. I know friends mean a great deal. Ask yourself if you’re happy or sad when with your friends.
Please remember you can stand alone. Many people are very happy single, especially in middle school. I think you’re being pressured to have a boyfriend by friends who are moving quickly. Try sharing your feelings with your friends. Try making other friends with other interests. Be proud to be yourself. Seeking a boyfriend before you’re ready will confuse you and distract you from school.
We host a Junior Advisory Board at your school. I’d like you to join. I’ll be happy to meet with you and explain the program. New friends and new activities may help.
Wishing for a relationship isn’t wrong. Settling for any person just to be able to say you have a boyfriend isn’t wise, however. I believe relationships should begin with a commitment to make the relationship work, not a “throw-away” attitude. Give yourself time.