Go Dear Abby!

Well, she’s certainly miles better than Dear Prudence. This morning, Abby tackles a letter from a mother who encouraged her daughter’s friend to tell her parents that she [the friend] was pregnant.

Letter under the cut for possible family abuse trigger.

The letter:

DEAR ABBY: I am extremely shaken by a recent experience, and I want to share this with other parents who may one day find themselves in a similar situation. My daughter, “Mary,” is almost 18 and in the 12th grade. We have always had a close relationship. She has always come to me to talk about what’s going on in her life — friends, crushes, school, just about everything.

A few months ago, Mary told me about a terrible situation concerning one of her classmates. “Jill” had just learned that she was pregnant and was frantic. She told Mary that she couldn’t tell her parents because she was afraid of a violent reaction.

Mary was so worried about Jill that she came to me for help. After hearing the story, I encouraged my daughter to tell Jill to talk to her parents. I never imagined what would happen next.

I knew from things Mary had said that Jill’s parents were hard on her, but I didn’t know the extent of her problems at home. When Jill took my advice and told her parents she was pregnant, her father beat her so badly she ended up in the hospital and lost the baby.

Abby, you can’t imagine how terrible I feel about this. Jill will never be the same, and I feel I am to blame. I wish I had known how to protect her from a dangerous and violent situation at home.

I hope you will share this letter with other concerned parents and give your thoughts on this heart-wrenching problem. — SHOCKED AND SADDENED IN SHERMAN OAKS, CALIF.

And Abby’s response:

DEAR SHOCKED: Please stop being so hard on yourself. You advised your daughter’s friend to do what most other parents would have. What you failed to take into consideration was the fact that many teens live in homes where there is violence, abuse, drug problems and incest.

A year ago here in California, there was an attempt to legislate “parental notification” into law. Fortunately, it was voted down. It’s teens like your daughter’s friend who would have been harmed by this kind of law. They certainly cannot go to their parents — and I have never believed that the law can successfully force this kind of communication with the home.

Of course parents want their children — regardless of age — to come to them if there is a crisis. And I am told that seven out of 10 teens who find themselves pregnant do exactly that. However, those who don’t usually have a good reason for not doing so. Teens like the girl in your letter need counseling and care, not laws forcing them to face abusive parents. I’m glad you wrote to me. Your sad story is a lesson for other well-meaning adults.

Way to go Abby for taking the opportunity to come out against parental notification laws! It’s been well documented as of late that trying to force communication in broken* families is never going to work, and be counterproductive at best, life-threatening at worst.

Let’s hope that people read “other well-meaning adults” as “legislators”.

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18 comments for “Go Dear Abby!

  1. October 27, 2006 at 9:46 am

    Somebody take that SOB father of “Jill”s out back and return the favour he did for his daughter.

    …I don’t often get angry about things, but beating your own family is beyond reprehensible.

  2. October 27, 2006 at 9:53 am

    Score one for Abby!

  3. October 27, 2006 at 10:08 am

    A year ago in California? But no explicit mention of Prop 85, a parental notification proposition which is on the ballot right now…

  4. October 27, 2006 at 10:28 am

    I love it! Abby’s so mainstream apple-pie. Taking on parental notfication laws.


  5. Mikey S
    October 27, 2006 at 10:49 am

    Brave, too – Dear Abby’s fanbase must have a fair number of pretty rabid fundamentalists – who aren’t going to hesitate to write some very nasty letters/threats.

  6. October 27, 2006 at 10:58 am

    Brava, Abby! She knew exactly how to right in a way that appeals to family-minded, decent people. That was lovely.

  7. October 27, 2006 at 10:59 am

    I read Dear Abby all though the seventies and eighties, and “Dear Abby” has never been afraid to take an unpopular stand. I can remember her advising women with abusive partners to just leave back when that was controversial (what about the CHILDREN?)

  8. October 27, 2006 at 11:52 am

    This isn’t the first time that Abby came out against Parental Notification. A year or so ago, a former “counselor” at a crisis clinic wrote almost the same story verbatum. Her response was the same to him — Parental Notification Laws are there for this exact reason.

    I remember another column where she advised a young, scared teenager who was afraid to tell her parents to go to Planned Parenthood. She had to dedicate a column a few weeks later to all the wingnuts writing in to scold her for suggesting the girl get an abortion (she never said abortion). Abby did a great job of standing her ground and reminding everyone that the girl needed to know all of her options from a balanced source. She even called out the Pregnancy Crisis Centers for their bullshit of showing bloody fetus pictures. It was great. I wrote her a letter of support after that. :)

  9. October 27, 2006 at 12:00 pm

    Everybody who lives in California needs to get out to the polls and vote down Prop 85. I know I’ll be there.

  10. DAS
    October 27, 2006 at 1:20 pm

    I remember another column where she advised a young, scared teenager who was afraid to tell her parents to go to Planned Parenthood. She had to dedicate a column a few weeks later to all the wingnuts writing in to scold her for suggesting the girl get an abortion – Mighty Ponygirl

    As I’m sure y’all already know, most social conservatives (and not just the most rabid of the fundies and wingnuts) somehow think that Planned Parenthood steers vulnerable young women toward abortion and that Planned Parenthood somehow benefits, in terms of profit or power or who knows what, from each abortion they perform.

    I know this is said time and time again; but, it still never ceases to amaze me the degree to which those on the right engage in projection: listen to a social conservative talk about “the gay agenda” or “Planned Parenthood” and their description of people trying “to recruit impressionable young kids into the gay life style” or “to convince desparate women and even girls to have abortions” sounds exactly like what the fundies are doing to attract new members to their organizations. Their descriptions of how gay rights or abortion rights organizations operate out of conflicts of interest and for their own benefit could be lifted, with words changed, straight out of a reasonable and fair description of how the military-industrial complex manages to bias our national discourse in favor of going to wars, largely supported by the fundies.

    So how do we turn their projection into introspection? We need to dump Dem. strategists in favor of Dr. Freud, though, dontcha think?

  11. October 27, 2006 at 1:27 pm

    Telling a pro-life woman that she shouldn’t go to Planned Parenthood for pregnancy counseling and pre-natal care because they offer abortions is like telling a vegetarian they shouldn’t shop at Whole Foods because they sell pork chops.

  12. DAS
    October 27, 2006 at 4:56 pm

    Telling a pro-life woman that she shouldn’t go to Planned Parenthood for pregnancy counseling and pre-natal care because they offer abortions is like telling a vegetarian they shouldn’t shop at Whole Foods because they sell pork chops. – Mighty Ponygirl

    The pro-life woman can very easily do what most of the vegetarian/pescatarian/kosher types I know do when shopping at Whole Foods: make a big production out of making “oh that’s so disgusting” looks when passing by the pork chops. It isn’t as if the mere site of a pork-chop will render some random frummie unable to resist eating a whole suckling pig.

    Oh wait a minute … we’re talking about righty-tighties here: as any psychologist could tell ya, a lot of these people seriously lack internal self-control unless they can believe that Something else can control their actions — when they say something to the effect of “if we allow gays to marry, bestiality will soon be accepted”, it’s cause if they didn’t have the external moral system telling them that bestiality is bad (that happens to also tell them teh hot sex, especially teh hot gay sex, is also bad), they would look at Spot or Sparky and say “why not?” … so they know they cannot have their system undermined.

    Which, AFAIC, is fine — whatever gets ya through the night and keeps ya from harming innocent animals and kids … but stop trying to force it on the rest of us, eh? Of course, if I were Kant or Nietzsche or M. Scott Peck or AbrahamTwersky or some other fancy-pants, smart-ass, I might say that such “morality” that is so fragile indicates that the person involved is inherently not yet moral … but I’m only a mere biophysical chemistry post-doc, so whadda I know about moral philosophy? I do dare so more than the so-called guardians of morality of our culture, nu?

  13. October 27, 2006 at 11:59 pm

    Good for Dear Abby. What a horrible thing to have happen, though. If I were that mother I would just feel so awful.

    Sometimes it is hard being the parent of a teen who keeps wanting to push the envelope and make choices you don’t like (she says, after having a convo with 15 year old over whether or not he will get a “snakebite” piercing on his bottom lip) but I just can’t understand people who would hurt their own child when the child is already terrified of being pregnant and already upset with herself – I wish such people had not had kids in the first place, sometimes it seems to me that child abuse is the root cause for most of what’s screwed up in this world.

  14. October 28, 2006 at 12:48 am

    Sorry about the track back. I didn’t know it did that. You can delete it if you want to.

  15. pdrydia
    October 28, 2006 at 4:44 pm

    When I was growing up, I had two friends (female) who were being beaten by their fathers. I advised them to go to the (middle) school counselor, because of course, that was what they were there for. The counselor, of course, in bother cases, called their parents, and asked “Are you beating your daughter?”

    “What? No! Of course not!”

    So when they got home…

    One of the same also went to the police about it. The police came to the house, talked to her parents, and then yelled at her, telling her that was just how her parents were raised and to deal with it, basically.

    I don’t like to think about the past very much.

  16. Cecily
    October 28, 2006 at 8:22 pm

    This is wonderful material for pamphletting against my own state’s current parental notification ballot measure!

  17. elektrodot
    October 29, 2006 at 10:58 am

    huh. well how about that. here i was thinking dear abby was a complete idiot after the email conversation i had with her. i dont have it now but it went something like, me reply to something kind of off she had said about visible panty lines, me giving a feminist reply, and her emailing me back saying “you may have a point but all the feminists i know capitalize” as in the first letter of every sentence. i got on her real bad about it, mentioning bell hooks and all and she replied back something like “have a sense of humor, how could you not know i was kidding”. um maybe cuz its the fuckin internet and theres no inflection so i cant possibly know your kidding?!

    ugh. i sill dont like her.

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