January 26, 2011

Dear Delphi,

My 19-year-old son impregnated his 18-year-old girlfriend. Not to be a snob, but I didn”€™t think this sort of thing happened in my ZIP code. I am completely unprepared; I never considered this as a possibility. I don”€™t want them to keep the baby, but I think they may want to; what can I do?

“€”Granddad at 48 in 10021

Dear Granddad at 48 in 10021,

You need to call her parents. Are they against abortion? Do they want to keep the baby? If they answer yes to both questions, you are out of luck. You will need to offer money to help raise the child and decide precisely how upstanding and involved you want your son to be. Do you think he should marry the girl? Does he even want to?

But if, like you, the girlfriend’s parents don”€™t want them to keep the baby, you should work together to point out all of the hard work that goes into having a child. Threaten that none of you will help them with childcare and money, nor will you pay a red cent for the child’s college. Maybe they don”€™t want the baby but need you to give them an excuse to do the unthinkable and terminate the pregnancy. This way it is on you and not them. Tell them they will need to work and immediately get them jobs as grocery cashiers, pizza-delivery people, or McDonald’s employees to prove how hard it is to make a dollar and support a family.

But if they decide to have the baby and get married even after all the threats and scare tactics, you need to be as supportive and helpful as humanly possible.


Dear Delphi,

My 11-year-old daughter, my youngest of eight children, burned down the neighbor’s barn while she and her friend were secretly smoking! I have lived through a lot with eight children, but never a barn reduced to ash. It is a small miracle the horses were not in the barn!  I am a strong believer that the punishment should fit the crime, but I am tired and simply can”€™t problem-solve anymore. Help?

“€”Burnt-Out Mom in Phoenix

Dear Burnt-Out Mom in Phoenix,

Getting caught for burning down the barn may have been the perfect punishment for the crime of smoking. What better way to teach about smoking’s perils than watching a barn go up in smoke, especially at the impressionable age of 11? She may not touch a cigarette again for at least five or six years. So you can probably wait on your anti-smoking campaign. For now, call the fire department and ask if they can give her some fire safety training. Also ask them if there’s any low-paid work she could do to earn some money to buy the neighbors a very nice gift as an apology for torching their barn.



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