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Margo Howard


The Bad Seed Dear Margo: I never thought I would write to an advice columnist, but here goes. I've been dating someone for about a year now, and we talk of marriage occasionally. He's ready for commitment and very gung-ho about us getting married, which is …Read more. Oh, and, Uh, By the Way... Dear Margo: I am soon to be 27 years old, and my only serious relationship ended a few years ago. In hopes of avoiding the standard meat market of dating, I'm considering registration with I've also had my share of casual relationships.…Read more. It Is in the Bible, but Not in the Stars Dear Margo: I have been dating a wonderful man for four months now. He is very kind and sweet in every way. We are much in love and happy together. There is only one problem: We are different religions. I am a Christian; he is agnostic. I have …Read more. Is Redemption Possible? Dear Margo: My problem is my live-in fiance of two years had a five-month affair with a client. I threw him out, and he ended it. I have talked to the woman he was seeing and know that he did walk out on her (plus all the seedy details). He went …Read more.
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Mom Purloins the Diary


Dear Margo: I found out last week that our 17-year-old high school junior is having sex with her boyfriend! First of all, I found out the wrong way: I snooped in her room and read her diary.

Second, she would never admit to it, so my husband insisted we just tell her what I found. Well, we did, and now she is furious with me and no longer trusts me — not that she has in quite a while.

In hindsight I should have handled this whole thing differently, but I am not afforded the luxury of changing the past. My question to you is twofold. Besides the obvious, that I feel terrible knowing what I know, and that my daughter hates me, I am not sure if the route we are taking is the correct one.

Without being angry with her, we offered to put her on the pill. We gave her two choices: either going with her boyfriend or by herself to Planned Parenthood to get contraception, or my getting her an appointment with a doctor.

I still don't agree with her choice to have sex with her boyfriend, but I did not want her to make any stupid mistakes, as she has such a bright future ahead of her. She says she is capable of handling things herself and of course knows everything there is about not getting pregnant. (Didn't we all know everything at that age?)

To add fuel to the fire, we know the boyfriend's parents and I told them, and they are discussing matters with him as well. Help! I am so saddened and sick to my stomach I am beside myself. — Texas Mother

Dear Tex: You do need to apologize to your daughter for snooping, though, as a mother, I think it is better that you know what is going on with her. With all that is possible to happen to kids these days, it may not be so terrible to get information any way you can. I know not everyone agrees with me.

Perhaps involving the young man's family made more trouble than you needed.

The important thing, however, is that the kids know about birth control, because once that horse is out of the barn, that's it.

— Margo, realistically


Dear Margo: I am a single mother who kicked out my abusive, adulterous ex when my daughter was an infant. It's a hard life, but one that I am proud of, and I've had lots of family support to help me through the tough times.

My cousin, with two children, is married to an abusive alcoholic. She's tried to kick him out but always winds up taking him back "for the kids' sake." I recognize she has chosen a different path than I, and I respect her decisions.

The problem is, my grandmother never fails to tell me what an "angel" my cousin is to keep her marriage together. I feel like such a loser when she tells everyone how "strong" and "wonderful" my cousin is for making sure her children have a father.

My brother is getting married soon, and I don't know what to say to Grandmother when she starts her lectures. How do I explain to someone of a different generation that I am doing the best I can for my daughter? Or do I continue to shut my mouth and feel inferior? — Proud Mom in New Hampshire

Dear Proud: I happen to think you made a brave choice, and the right one for your child. Because grandmothers are usually older and from another generation, there is little chance you can change her outlook.

If you absolutely feel you must say something, say, "Look, Gram, I am living an honest life, and I think my child is better off without the burdens of an unhappy home."

As an outsider, I think the cousin who keeps the lout around is the one who should be feeling inferior. I guarantee you, your life is better than hers. — Margo, independently

Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers' daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.




8 Comments | Post Comment
Texas Mother -- maybe Margo and other moms would agree that finding out this information about your daughter trumps your violation of her privacy. That issue aside, you sound overly anxious, to the point that you are not offering your daughter a sincere apology, as well as a supportive and stable person she can actually turn to and confide in. Of COURSE she's not discussing her private life with you -- you're a basket case who takes her decisions WAY too personally. Tell her you are SO VERY SORRY for what you did, and let her know you have faith in her to take responsibility for her life. Don't lecture, ask questions instead ("Do you want a ride/company to get birth control?" "Do you want to find out more about STDs?" "Do you want to look into the HPV vaccine?" "Do you feel properly informed about sharing intimate pics, and how this is never guaranteed to stay private?") ASK, and LISTEN. And for Pete's sake, be truly contrite about reading her diary!!!
Comment: #1
Posted by: deb
Fri Mar 28, 2014 7:45 AM
LW2: Why should you respect the decisions of a woman who keeps taking an abusive drunk back into her home? She is obviously not doing it for the kids, she's doing it for herself, despite the harm it does to the kids.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Mary
Fri Mar 28, 2014 11:23 AM
I know these are "recycled letters" from years past, but the issues they raise come up recurrently. So some comments for anyone faced with similar situations:

1) LW1 - I expect by now you've reconciled with your daughter. Hopefully it did not involved dealing with an unwanted pregnancy. I hope also you were able to let go of your guilt over having looked at her diary. You did owe her an apology for that; you did apologize; and life goes on.

2) I don't think it's too late to talk with someone or straighten them out, just because they're older. I would take grandma aside and explain calmly and without blaming her for her attitudes, why there's another way to look at the situation. Personally I like yours better than your cousin's. It's hard to raise a child alone, and hard for children to grow up with only one parent. (Single parents should work diligently to provide opposite-sex role models for their kids to somewhat fill the role of the missing dad or mom.) But it's far better to grow up with a single parent raising you, than grow up with a drunken abuser in the house.
Comment: #3
Posted by: sarah morrow
Fri Mar 28, 2014 12:58 PM
LW1: Having lived and supported both my daughter and granddaughter thru having pre marital sex after their assurances that they had the birth control issue under control and their resultant pregnancies, I would do the following: (1) Informed her that if she wanted to have sex great but she was going to receive birth control. (2) Taken her to the doctor and gotten birth control pills (3) watch her take them every day to assure she had done it. (4) Assure that she kept up with them by taking her to the doctor myself. I am sure many will disagree with my dictatoral approach to this, but sexually active young girls is a gift that just keeps on giving. The worst part of it is the knowledge that they had unprotected sex and placed their lives and futures in jeopardy. I say this as I watch my great grandchild.

Comment: #4
Posted by: Billie Seaton
Fri Mar 28, 2014 3:05 PM
LW1 If you honestly felt that you had to snoop to get the info, then I have to say that you have not done a good job as a parent from the get go. My mom never felt the need to invade the privacy of my sister or me, but then again she also maintained open communications with us from when we were little, that we knew there was NO SUBJECT we couldn't talk about with her, be it sex, drugs, or anything. We were taught about sex and where babies come from and everything when we were little that we knew how to protect ourselves that if something happened we would get beaten within an inch of our lives for letting it happen, not because we did whatever.

LW2 I have to say that I agree with margo, as someone who has a mom who kicked his father out when he was an abusive person, it can be hard, but you have to know that in your heart, YOU MADE THE RIGHT CHOICE!!!! Doing what's best for you and your kids is the most important thing!!
Comment: #5
Posted by: T.C. McCloud
Sat Apr 5, 2014 5:01 AM
LW1- I know this is an old letter, but I want to comment. You probably snooped because you knew something was off with your daughter, and you wanted to help her if she was heading for trouble. It turns out that your instincts were right, because she was having sex with her boyfriend. Well, then you did the right thing when you offered to take her for birth control pills, and offered to go with her. I also don't disagree with getting her boyfriend and his family involved, because if they had created a baby, everyone would be involved for sure. And it takes two to make a baby, the responsibility for birth control should not only be on the girl.
I know that as parents, we are not supposed to snoop on our kids. But I remember being a kid, and withholding everything from my parents. I know that most kids do hide a lot from their parents, and sometimes they get in over their head. A little parental intervention could have saved them a lot of heartache, but now the well hidden secret causes a major headache for everyone. I am not against some discreet snooping. And when I say discreet, I mean, don't get caught. I know that I might get flamed for saying so, but you can tell your kids about sex, encourage them to come to you, never say a judgmental thing, and yet, some kids still won't ask for guidance, or admit that they need it. So, if you can gather some intel, you may be able to save your kid from some heartache. Because, as their parent, you are responsible for getting them to adulthood in one piece. If you find a roach clip in their sock drawer, a water pipe behind the books, and some odd pills under the mattress, don't you think you should act on that, instead of worrying about getting a reputation as a snoop?
I would own it, and say, heck, yeah, I snooped. And you are a sneaky liar who told me you never use drugs. So lets both apologize, and then we are going to get you straightened out. I would add that, if a teen lies to their parents, they have broken trust and faith. And it is always harder to earn it back than to keep trust. So if a teen sneaks and lies, and the parents snoop, I think if it leads to a good solution for the teen, then the hurt feelings are worth it. I lost two nieces and two nephews due to drug involvement, and if I could turn back time, I would have encouraged their parents to find out what was really going on, stop taking the word of a confused teen, and do whatever you have to do to save them.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Patty Bear
Fri Apr 18, 2014 2:18 PM
I wish Creators would just take down columns that are inactive. How boring to always see the same columns up for months on end.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Mary
Wed Jun 4, 2014 8:54 AM
Re: Mary

I agree!

Some of the columns are still up even though the columnists are dead, or no longer active.

Nuff Said...Dennis
Comment: #8
Posted by: Dennis
Mon Jul 20, 2015 6:29 AM
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