*Fifteen and Pregnant!

Dear Tamara:

My fifteen-year-old niece confided in me that she is four months pregnant. I tried to talk to her and convince her to talk to her mother, but she is too afraid. Though my sister has a history of getting upset and going off, I still think she has the right to know about her daughter. I want to tell my sister, but I don’t want to break my niece’s trust, nor do I want my sister to be hurt and upset that my niece confided in me instead of her. What should I do?

My Sister’s Keeper

Dear Sister’s Keeper:

First let me say that I am glad that your niece has someone she can confide in. Many times young girls find themselves alone in these situations with no support, guidance, or someone to help them make decisions. I do agree with you that your sister needs to know what is going on. I often tell my children, “Yes I may get mad, and yes I might fuss, but at the end of the day I care about you and your well being. I need to know what is going on so that I can help you.” Our children have a tendency to hold back information because they are so afraid of our reaction, but oftentimes we are the only ones that can help them properly deal with a situation. This is one of those times. Teenage pregnancy is certainly a challenge and nothing that any of us want to deal with. Your niece needs to understand that her mother may be upset, and rightfully so, but this is a crucial time and her mother needs to be in on the decision-making process.

And who knows, your sister might receive the news and react in a totally different way. I remember having to tell my own mother that I was pregnant. After years of hearing that I would “be put out if I came home pregnant,” I was petrified. Yes my mother was hurt and upset, but we worked through the difficult situation and she was more understanding than I imagined. Both you and your niece need to give your sister the benefit of the doubt and allow her the opportunity to react to and deal with the situation.

I think you also need to give your niece the opportunity and/or an ultimatum to tell her mother herself and if she doesn’t do it within a 48-hour window, then you need to do it for her. Letting the situation drag on and keeping your sister in the dark may prove to be detrimental to your sister and both of your relationships.

Author of the upcoming book Been There Done That: And Lived to Tell About It (due out Spring 2011), Tamara R. Allen is Your Advice Guru giving REAL advice from REAL experience. Email your questions to [email protected]. You can follow Tamara on twitter @tamararallen or check out her daily column and archives at www.tamararallen.com.