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I just found out that my 20-year-old daughter had an abortion last year and I’m really having a difficult time accepting her decision.
Tracey is at an out of state college but we talk every week and I thought we had a good relationship. I knew she was going through a difficult time last year but I had no idea that she was pregnant or had chosen to terminate her pregnancy.
Tracey knows that I am anti-abortion and would have talked her out of the decision – so I feel betrayed on a lot of levels. It’s caused a great deal of tension between us and I’m struggling to know where we go from here.
What do you advise, Rene?
Abortion is one of those hot button issues that even I shy away from. It is an intensely personal decision yet perfect strangers feel comfortable trying to impose their will and beliefs on others. Because of that I have hesitated to show my cards but I will before I give you my answer. I am PRO-CHOICE. Please understand, that does not mean PRO-ABORTION, in fact for me at this stage in my life, I am anti-abortion. FOR ME! But what works for me is not going to work for someone else and it’s flat out wrong for me try to influence someone else’s decision based on what I believe. Okay, now that we have that out of the way, you asked me what I think. My advice to you is:
GET OVER IT!
THIS WAS TRACEY’S DECISION: She’s 20. She goes to school out of state. She had sex and got pregnant. Of those facts, only one of them involves you and that’s only if you are footing the bill for her college tuition. You need to put away your hurt feelings and look at this as dispassionately as possible. I don’t care how close your relationship with your daughter is or you think it is, the fact is at 19 Tracey found herself pregnant with a pro-life mother who she clearly didn’t feel comfortable talking to. Would you? So she took matters into her own hands and handled the situation in the way that best suited HER life, not yours.
THIS IS NOT A GAUGE OF YOUR “GOOD” RELATIONSHIP: You would be making a tremendous mistake if you assume Tracey’s decision is a reflection on the relationship between the two of you. Look, you are pro-life and admit that your daughter knew you would try to talk her out of an abortion. She is clearly pro-choice. But being on opposite sides of a very divisive issue does not mean you don’t still have a good relationship; you just don’t see eye to eye on this point.
I have a number of friends whose beliefs are not in line with mine and guess what? My life is enriched for it. I do think one of the hardest things for us as parents is when we raise our kids to be individual thinkers and then we have the nerve to get our noses bent out of shape when they use the skill set we taught them. It’s really not right when they do as we have taught them (think for themselves) but then try to put conditions on it.
SALVAGE THE RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR KID: You said yourself this has caused a great deal of tension between the two of you. You have two choices. You can let this derail your relationship or you can pull on your big girl britches and get on with it. I’m going to suggest the latter you know why? Because THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU!
Why do you feel betrayed? Because she went against your personal belief? You think Tracey’s got you at the top of mind when she’s got to handle tough stuff? It’s possible she does, but at the end of the day she has to do what’s best for her life and having a child at 20 didn’t fit into that equation. I think you have ONE window of opportunity to speak your mind. Tell her you’re disappointed she didn’t come to you, ask her why, how she thinks you would have responded upon hearing of the pregnancy and how she would have liked you to. And then, bury it. If you continue to have a hard time with this, well that’s on you. Get counseling, get a hobby, get a good book whatever will help you to get a grip. It’s over.
You’ve made it abundantly clear this is not the decision you would have chosen but one glaring part of the equation remains: you are not living Tracey’s life. She is an adult and out of the house so whatever pull, reach, influence you had on her has been replaced by her own decision making skills. Those are not always going to align with your thinking and clearly this was one of those times.
Good luck mommy!
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