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Ask Rene: Dealing With My Daughter’s Abortion



Ask Rene:
Dealing With My Daughter’s Abortion

Dear Rene,

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?


Tina, Idaho

Dear Tina:

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:


Here’s why:

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 how close 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 her 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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  1. Samantha Sophia

    June 1, 2011 at 9:39 am

    I would say to this mother to be there for her daughter. I made a similar decision in college with my husband (then boyfriend) and I did not tell my mother. To this day both my husband and I mourn that decision. Making a permanent decision based on a temporary situation has far reaching emotional and spiritual ramifications. I did it all because of fear and insecurity and limited ideas of success.

  2. AllyLank

    June 1, 2011 at 10:14 am

    I would suggest that this Mom not push her beliefs on her daughter at a time when the daughter likely needs support. I would also suggest to quit making it about her. This is not her issue, she didn’t have an abortion so all her prolife ideas are still intact. The daughter is 20, she is an adult, did this Mom think she would be making the decisions for her child into adulthood?

  3. Amanda

    June 1, 2011 at 10:57 am

    I would agree with Samantha to be there for her daughter. Also, I would consider yourself lucky. I’d bet there are many 20 year olds who would never tell their mothers that they had an abortion, ESPECIALLY if they knew their mothers were against it. I’d say the fact that she confided this in you at all is a testament to how strong your relationship is.

  4. Tiffany

    June 1, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Perfect advice, Rene.

  5. Will Jones

    June 1, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    This question is waaaaaay outside of Man-Land. Guys don’t really get to have a vote on this subject, nor should they. I tell my son’s that they are only in control until they give that control away, and that once any fluids leave their bodies, they no longer have any say-so as whether or not someone uses it to make a baby (…and YES, I told it to them that bluntly.)

  6. Rene Syler

    June 1, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    @Will: LOL you know my son makes me very proud a lot of times. Once we were talking about this issue. I asked him what he thought. He said, basically what you said, that it wasn’t his place to judge. That’s the crux of this issue to me. What’s right for you may be wrong for someone else and we get in trouble when we try to make everyone believe as we do.

  7. Rene Syler

    June 1, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    @Samantha: Wow, thanks for sharing this. Why do you regret not telling your mother and is it the decision to have the abortion that you regret or not sharing the fact that you were pregnant wit her?

  8. Rene Syler

    June 1, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    @Amanda: Great points!

  9. Will Jones

    June 1, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Rene- It would be really easy for a man to make this call because he’ll never really have to deal with either side as anything more than a by-stander. He can say pro-life without ever having someone else tell him what he can and cannot do with his body. He can say pro-choice without ever having to decide to choose one future over another for his own life and that of another, and having no real way to judge which would have been better once he gets there.

    If I am asked by someone for advice, I’ll voice my opinion. Other than that, I support the decision of the woman who has to make it. That is all.

  10. Smarty P. Jones

    June 1, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    I think the mom is having an issue accepting it because she passed judgement on her own kid. The bottom line in all this is the pro-choice/pro-life debate will never be settled because everyone will continue to judge and paint folks with the same brush.

    Somewhere along the way, that mom made a remark or something that let her daughter know that decision would not be her own if she shared it with her mother and that she would also be judged.

    I’ve never had an abortion and at this stage in my life, I don’t think I would. But in college I drove more than a couple of friends to the clinic to have the procedure done. It’s not an easy decision or one they take lightly. Clearly, somewhere along the way, this mom made her daughter’s decision about herself and it had absolutely nothing to do with her.

    What her daughter needs now is support and a hug because she will have to deal with that for years to come. What she doesn’t need is the added stress of having to deal with a judgmental parent looking at her with shame in her eyes.

    All you can do as a parent is try your best to instill in your kid the things you think they need to know. Once they become adults, it’s your job to step away and let them make their own decisions and mistakes. Somethings you can’t and should not try to shield them from. In other words, mom needs to pray about it and let it go. It wasn’t her decision to make and not her place to judge.

  11. Katherine

    June 1, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    “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.”

    I must point this out Mom, this wasn’t about YOU. It was about Tracey, the child, and Tracey’s future. I’m the same age as your daughter (20) and in a similar situation (out-of state student etc…) and I’m pretty sure I would have made the same choice had that happened to me a year ago.
    The difference between us however, is that I would have gone to my mother, and she would have not only supported me with my decision, but helped me (drove me there, helped pay for it etc).
    You said yourself that you would have tried to talk her out of it, and THAT is why she didn’t tell you.
    Ultimately, if she would have not terminated the pregnancy, right now there would be a little girl/boy that SHE would be responsible for…not you.
    I’m not saying that you need to change you views, but do not judge others who do not agree…especially your daughter. She, if anything, needs you to be there for her.

  12. m.e. johnson

    June 1, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    Good on you, Rene. After the fact but it looks like mom didn’t teach enough (if anything) about birth control.

    She’s upset about the abortion, she doesn’t say she’s upset about not being a grandma. Hmmm.

  13. Jayson Sutherland

    June 1, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    Okay first of all it was her daughter’s body so therefore it was her decision. You cannot force your beliefs on your children or anyone else for that matter. Personally I dealt with this with my daughters before and I respected their decisions even though I am opposed to abortion, I feel that is a decision left up to the individual. It should be left up to them and their maker to work that out. I feel like it is wrong but it is not my body and why be selfish in my feelings without taking into account hers…….It didn’t break the relationship I have with my daughters although I hope God forgives me for supporting her financially with that decision

  14. Julie

    June 1, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    I agree with Rene. The daughter is an adult and make a legal decision. She made a choice to focus on her education, instead of having to drop out to raise a child, most likely as a single mother. If a woman is not at the point where she is prepared both financially and emotionally to care for a child, she should not be having one.

    As far as birth control, we can tell our kids time and time again to use birth control, but we cannot monitor them 24 hours a day, and they might make poor choices. We just have to be there for their support to help them through the poor choices they sometime make.

    My son became a father at 17, even though he did not want this. He is now raising the child himself. It’s funny how the birth mom said she was against abortion and it was her body, but then she chose to not take care of the kid or the other two she had with two other guys. My son had to give up the idea of college, so that he could work to finally support his child, since the mother chose not to.

  15. Samantha Sophia

    June 1, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    Rene Syler:

    @Samantha: Wow, thanks for sharing this. Why do you regret not telling your mother and is it the decision to have the abortion that you regret or not sharing the fact that you were pregnant wit her?

    00 iRate This

    I told my mother of the pregnancy after the fact and she would have been very supportive of my decision to have the child. I did make it seem at the time like it was a miscarriage, mostly due to the self shame and disappointment. My fiance also wanted me to keep the baby.

    My boyfriend and I were engaged and the abortion broke us up and we both went through post traumatic stress due to it. I regret the abortion itself. The personal stress, pain, remorse, and guilt in having a hand in ending a life is more than I can describe. It took a great deal of counseling to overcome.

    I personally oppose both the pro-life and pro-choice movements. What is need is a movement to support women and help them to believe in themselves on a higher level.

  16. Mia

    June 9, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Rene your answer is SPOT ON! Good job. I pray this mother will take your advice. As Samantha indicated it can be a hard decision to live with and having her mother’s judging eyes and opinions coming down on her can’t make it any easier.

    I have girls and while you can’t monitor them 24 hours a day you can certainly preach about birth control, provide access to the doctor and money for prescriptions and condoms. My girls used Depo it last for 3 months at a time. Two had kids out of wedlock and it was clear it wasn’t an accident. One married her childs father and had 2 more, the other came to the conclusion that most women who have had kids in the hope of holding on to a man that it doesn’t work. Our youngest daughter and son 22 and 23 are childless as it should be. I remind them how selfish they are and to make sure they keep it wrapped up, because they can’t afford all their wants, there is no way they could handle a child. We are PRO-LIFE & PRO-CHOICE, we choose life, but understand it is not my place to take away anyone’s choice. God is the ultimate example of allowing free choice, I think we would all do good to follow that example. Free choice doesn’t mean no consequences.

  17. Pam

    July 17, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    Hi I happen to be against abortion due to the fact that I miscarried at child at 51/2 months pregnant, and I had to deliver this child. It was 25 yrs ago and i can still see my child laying on the table. I feel if your old enough to have sex then you are old enough to take responsibility for the outcome of that action. I found out 3 days ago that my 21 yr daughter aborted twins 2 months ago. She had also had 1 previous abortion 2 yrs ago. She did not come to me on either occstion because she knew that I would talk her out of it. my heart is broken for her, the babies, her dad, etc. I know that she will regret this decision some day. She tried to kill herself two weeks ago and i feel her pain is due to the abortions and I’m praying that I can get thru to her and let her know I love her, I’m here for her, and I’ll always stand by her. All i know is that since her 2nd abortion she had been drinking, drugging, and trying to kill herself and can’t even look me in the eye. I just want to help her and don’t know how to get her to open up and deal with the pain shes feeling. This is why I don’t beleive in abortion, it seems to huant the mother for the rest of her life.

  18. Stefany

    August 7, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    I had the same issue….however my daughter was a lot younger*(high school young) I was upset at first then i got over it… and i thanked her for making the decison first …. but coming to me later to let me know she needed my assist to get back to her normal life…. It was hard because so many of us older parents are so ready for grandchildren til we dont think to care about daughters feelings….

  19. Sandy Seale

    August 7, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    First I’ll say that PERSONALLY I am against abortion as a means of birth control instead of being responsible ahead of time by using a reliable form of birth control (although even then things happen). HOWEVER, that being said, I agree totally with everything Rene said & most of the rest of you guys. It is an extremely personal decision which should not be made lightly or without someone you love & trust to help talk you thru it….that could have been “mommy”. But she is the one that kept that from happening by not having given her daughter the knowledge while growing up that she’d ALWAYS be there for her REGARDLESS of the circumstances or whether it coincided with her beliefs & values. I have 3 daughters who, all their lives, I have let them know my values & morals, hopefully instilling some of those in them. However, I also let them know that IF they found themselves in ANY difficult situation they could come to me & we’d work it out according to what was best for them…..not me. Anything less would be burying my head in the sand that they’d always do the right thing (in my mind), never screw up or do something I didn’t particularly agree with or believe in. They are their own person & must form their own values & beliefs. I would be disappointed given certain circumstances; however I would be much sadder if they felt they couldn’t come to me without being condemned, chastised or preached at. I too believe if they’d had the relationship mom thinks they had then her daughter wouldn’t have believed she had no other choice but to exclude her from the decision. The other side of that is that we moms also have to realize that no matter how close & open our relationship is with our daughters, they are going to have parts of their lives that we won’t be included in or privy to which is as it should be. Quit trying to live her life & live your own. Apologize to your daughter for having given her the idea that you have been too opinionated & cut her off from being able to come to you no matter what the situation. Ask her forgiveness & let her know how much you love her & respect her ability to live her own life. Then let it go….its history regardless. Everyone is going to suffer for a long time if you can’t or won’t. Good luck.

  20. Kristina Brooke

    August 7, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    I wanted to address the notion that all women who have had an abortion
    regret it… this is simply not true. Some women go on to live happy
    healthy lives with no PTSD and no second thoughts. I do believe that has
    a lot to do with “why” one has an abortion and less to do with the
    abortion itself. I have been pregnant 3 times in my life. The first I
    terminated at barely 8 weeks, the second my husband and I lost at 19.5
    weeks and like a previous commenter I had to deliver her, and the third
    brought me my daughter. I do not for one second think that I made the
    wrong decision. What prevented me from telling my mother about the
    preganncy and subsequent abortion was that I knew there was no escaping
    her judgement nor did I wish to be guiled into something that I was
    mentally, finacially, emotionally ready to endure.

    I agree with you Rene. It is the daughter’s decision and it does not
    have to do with her mother nor anyone else for that matter. The mother
    needs to fully understand that and move on. Hug your daughter, tell her
    that you love her, and let her know that you are there for her no matter
    what. My mother has never done that and now she doesn’t even know her 5
    year old granddaughter.

  21. Sandy Seale

    August 8, 2011 at 12:03 am

    Kristina, your story just shows what a very personal matter & choice it is. I’m sorry you & others don’t have moms that would be there for you & support your decision ….even if it isn’t one she agrees with personally. I;m also sad for your loss of your second child. I too had a friend whose baby died early on & she had to carry it & deliver….I’ve never totally understand how that can be or how a mother can endure such a thing. Congrats on your beautiful daughter. You did what you felt was best for you at that time. Your mom is the one who has missed out due to her lack of accepting you for who you are. I’m Nana to 5 beautiful grandkids, of which only one was truly planned. But I can’t begin to imagine life without a single one of them…..they are my life. I’ve kept all of them while their parents worked (if mom/dad can’t be there who loves them more?) and its only made my life richer. I feel so sad that your mom & others like her have put themselves in a position of missing out on what I’ve got…..I hope they think being “right” is worth it.

  22. Pingback: Good Enough Mother® » Komen For The Cure and Planned Parenthood: My Reaction » Good Enough Mother®

  23. Mei

    December 27, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    I’ve stumbled upon this chat forum, and I can see it’s a tad bit older. I still would like to post for all the upcoming people who so happen to also stumble upon the chat forum too. I have a daughter, who is not near the age of being able to possibly have a child yet, however, I know that this is an issue I always have to be prepared for due to the fact that I have a daughter. That being said, I am pro-life, and will teach my daughter to be as well. I am taught to be pro-life, not pro-choice, but my parents were very supportive when I was considering abortion when I first found out I was unexpectedly expecting as a almost sixteen year old with high chances of being a single mom.

    I support birth control, and I believe that is a forum of being pro-choice to an extent. It’s the parents responsibility to advise and teach the child the correct way to use whichever type of birth control their child choose to use. From there, it’s the child’s responsibility to correctly and (if i could underlind and bold this next word i would) ongoingly use their method of birth control to prevent unwanted or unexpected pregnancies. Which applies for women and men.

    There’s been times where I felt overwhelmed, and limited on life experiences and success due to having a child at young age. On that I agree with a previous post, there should be more people encouraging the positive aspects and self esteem. You can have both and make it work. You only limit yourself.

    More importantly, and very surprisly I have not seen it mentioned yet, adoption is another option I strongly believe in. Children are a blessing, and from the moment you are in fact pregnant to me is when you have indeed created another human being even though it might not be scientifically stated as or all the way formed into a human you can see or at a certain day or week. It’s taking away what we are gifted with: life, from someone else we created purposely or carelessly. If you are not ready for the baby that’s expecting, someone else would be overjoyed to be bless with that child. It’s not always about abortion or having to raise the baby if your not ready.

    Besides all that, more to the point of the orianhlly post, I think for the mother she should not look down upon her daughter.Making a choice to keep or aborte is over all a hard, and what’s done is done, and no one can change that. Since her daughter choose a more regretfully desicion, I think the mother shouldn’t cause a fuss about if she made the right or wrong one, and just be there and give her support because that’s what she needs the most. I do feel strongly about what Rene said to ask. Those are important and for future she will know what to expect from what her daugher needs, give her closer, and make her daughter feel more comfortable to come to her the next time around. To listen, agree and not turn it into an argument or discsision and then give love and care. Which also helps mend the relationship for them.

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