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
THE "ANGEL" AND THE DRUNK
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 www.creators.com/dearmargo. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.