Dear Abby: Please don’t ask a woman if she’s planning children

The seemingly harmless question can open up wounds about infertility and miscarriage.

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DEAR ABBY: This message is for all those well-meaning people who ask women if they plan on having children (or more of them). Just don’t! They may not want children or the inevitable discussion about why they have made that choice. They might be “one and done,” and that’s OK, too. They may be trying without success or had miscarriages. Or they might even be pregnant but not ready to announce it to anyone.

The last time I was asked was the day I found out I was pregnant. I lost the pregnancy a month later. This line of questioning is not meant to be anything more than curious and kind, but at best it can be uncomfortable, and at worst, painful. Thanks for letting me vent. — CAREFUL IN CONNECTICUT

DEAR CAREFUL: You’re welcome. You have stated it well, and I agree with you. Another common question that can be emotionally loaded is, “Do you HAVE children?” For someone who has lost a child, or has one in rehab or in jail, a truthful answer can also be painful.

DEAR ABBY: I have been married to my husband for 13 years. He has lied about little things and also about emotional relationships he has had with co-workers. It went on for years, as he moved from one job to another.

A few months ago, I found out from the other woman that he’d had a sexual affair with her. He had been in counseling for months prior because of what he said were mental health issues. In reality, it was because of his guilt.

We are now in marriage counseling and individual counseling, as well. I don’t know if it will help because he has been a gaslighter for years. Please tell me what you think. — PATIENT WIFE IN MINNESOTA

DEAR WIFE: Give the counseling a try. But because of your husband’s long history of lying to you, things will have to drastically change in your relationship. Until trust can be established, his life must be an open book — including his phone messages, texts and credit card statements. That he felt enough guilt that he started counseling is a hopeful sign, but there are no guarantees that your marriage can be saved.

DEAR ABBY: A co-worker moved into my town about 18 months ago. Because we have the same schedule, he asked me for a ride to and from work one day. Well, now it seems that I drive him about three times a week.

When he works and I’m off, he takes an Uber, which costs around $25 round trip, but for me he has never even offered to buy a cup of coffee. I stopped to buy gas one morning and mentioned I was only going to get $10 worth because it was all the cash I had. He didn’t even blink! My daughter says I should charge him a weekly amount or quit taking him. What do you think? — FROSTED IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR FROSTED: Shame on him. Feel free to tell your co-worker that providing transportation on a regular basis (three times a week?!) is not a free service, and in the future you expect compensation for your efforts. Frankly, he should have offered when it turned out he needed transportation so often. If he gives you an argument, quit allowing him to use you because that is exactly what he is doing.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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