Dear Abby: Teen tells stepmom she’s sexually active, swears her to secrecy

The woman feels her husband needs to know but doesn’t want to betray the girl’s confidence

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DEAR ABBY: My beautiful 17-year-old stepdaughter, “Amelia,” recently became sexually active. She’s in a “serious” relationship with the boy she had sex with. They have been together for six months, and from what she’s told me, they both gave each other their virginity and protection was used. She has not disclosed this to her parents.

My husband and Amelia are very close, but she and her mom recently had a falling-out. Amelia pledged me to secrecy, and I immediately scheduled her to see an OB/GYN to get her on birth control.

My question is, should I tell my husband? I feel awful not telling him, but she has told me she doesn’t want either of her parents to know. I’m grateful she comes to me for things like this, but eventually, it’s going to come out when my husband sees the explanation of benefits from the insurance.

Amelia’s mom and I have a solid relationship, and my husband and her mom also have a good one. I don’t want to keep secrets regarding their daughter, but I don’t want to betray my stepdaughter either. Please help. — STRUGGLING STEPMOM

DEAR STEPMOM: It isn’t necessary to betray your stepdaughter’s confidence to get her the help she needs. Go online to, locate the nearest Planned Parenthood clinic and share that information with Amelia. The organization provides a wide range of low-cost services to women and men, including family planning, STD diagnosis and treatment, and birth control on a confidential basis. You should also encourage Amelia to discuss this with her parents. She is behaving responsibly in wanting to protect herself.

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have been married for decades, but 10 years ago she had, at the least, a texting affair with “Brad,” a longtime friend of her brother’s. Her brother, who knows about the affair, lives on a large tract of land owned by their father. Brad is there often to go hunting with her brother. My wife and I used to visit frequently, but now there is some concern that Brad might be there and we’ll have a conflict, so we don’t go as much. The affair was very upsetting to me, but my wife insisted we keep it quiet so her brother could continue his friendship with Brad.

Over the years, she has occasionally had online contact with Brad and even told him that she appreciated him talking with our son because our son has few friends. But now our son, who knows nothing about the affair or how bad it hurt me, has become friendly with Brad. It is very difficult hearing him talk about things they do together. Should we tell our son about the affair? — STILL HURT IN TEXAS

DEAR STILL HURT: Tempting as it may be to “out” your wife to your son, keep that information to yourself. I question the wisdom of Brad having been encouraged to cultivate a relationship with your son since this friendship is the fruit of that decision. Because you prefer not to hear what your son and Brad are doing, the next time it comes up, change the subject. He may or may not catch on and question you about the reason, but if he does, all you need to say is you’d rather not discuss it.

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.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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