Evaluating Lifestyle Options
You are facing many decisions and you want to decide well. In making any decision, first you must get all the facts. Then you must compare the choices by considering the facts. Finally, you must decide and then take the responsibility for your choice.
Obviously, you can make only one choice of the several you have. For example, if you choose to parent your baby, you are not choosing adoption (although you can change your mind later and then choose it). If you don't choose well initially, you can always choose again, but you may have experienced much stress and pain by making a wrong choice and then correcting it. This Appendix should help you choose wisely the first time.
First decide which decisions you must make. Not every section of this Appendix will apply to your own situation, but some sections will. Discuss your answers to the questions in those sections with a counselor or your confidant. Based on your answers, what is the best choice for you and your baby?
If you don't have a clear-cut choice, try writing down the good and bad aspects of each choice you have. Which choice will result in the most good? Perhaps that is the choice you should make.
DECIDING WHETHER TO CONTINUE YOUR EDUCATION OR CAREER
You may have difficulty choosing between your education or career and motherhood, or you may want to have both simultaneously. Depending upon your age and situation, discuss the following questions with a vocational counselor or your confidant, partner, or parents or guardians.
Career? Education? Motherhood?
* How do I feel about continuing my education or career and about motherhood? Would I want to have both? Would I want to choose one and not the other? Why do I feel this way?
* What is my attitude toward career mothers or student mothers?
* Can I financially afford to parent a child?
Why or why not? How can I better manage my finances to make room for a baby? Would a financial consultant help?
* Can I afford the time to parent a baby now? Do I have take-home assignments regularly? Can I do these if I am parenting? Who can watch my baby while I do this take-home work?
* How do I feel about day care? About a baby sitter in my home? Where do my feelings originate? How would I find day care or a sitter whom I could really trust? Through newspaper ads? Through a friend? Through a religious institution? Through my family?
* If I want to keep my baby with me while working, can I hire a baby sitter to come to work with me?
* Does my company, place of work, or educational institution have a child care center? Should I suggest beginning one? How would my company or educational institution react?
* If I want to be a full-time mom, how will I feel about giving up my career or education for a few years? Am I afraid that I would be bored, unfulfilled, or stifled?
* If I am thinking about dropping out of high school or college to parent my baby, am I making a good choice? What would be the consequences of my not having a diploma? Would I ever go back to school to finish my education? Why or why not? Does my education matter? Why?
* Do I feel ignorant of child care? Do I think I would do a bad job? How can I learn the art of mothering? Through books? Parenting courses? Advice of friends?
* How would my husband or boyfriend feel about my combining a career or education with motherhood? How would he feel if I gave up one for the other? Do I care how he feels?
* If I am thinking of giving up my job to parent my child, where will I get the money I need? Can I use government assistance? Can my partner support the two of us and the baby on one salary? Will we have to adjust our lifestyle? How? How will both of us feel about that?
* How can I parent my baby and maintain my career or continue my education? Is adoption better? How do I feel about each option?
Making A Wise Choice
Choose the option that will give you the most satisfaction and the least stress in the long run. You may have to make some trade-offs for a while in order to achieve your desired long-term goals.
CHOOSING WHETHER OR NOT TO MARRY
If you're deciding whether or not to marry either your baby's father or another man, consider these questions. Marriage is a big commitment. Think carefully before choosing it.
Your Reasons for Considering Marriage
Why am I considering marriage?
* Because I'm pregnant?
* To give my baby a name?
* Because I think it's the proper thing to do?
* Because someone else wants me to?
* So that other people won't talk about me?
* Because I want to feel needed and worthwhile?
* For companionship?
* Are any of these good enough reasons for marriage?
* Would I be considering marriage if I were not pregnant?
* Why should someone be getting married?
* Do I love this man enough to want to spend my whole life with him?
"Costs" of Marriage
* Am I willing to give up my freedom to be married now?
* Will marriage to this man cause me to abandon my educational or career goals? Why? How does this make me feel?
* Am I willing to adjust my lifestyle to accommodate this man and marriage?
* Am I ready to take on responsibility for caring for myself, my baby, and this man as well?
* Is this man ready to give himself totally to the care of his child and to me as his wife? Will he do this forever or will he lose interest? Will I lose interest in him?
* Do I think this marriage will last? Will we work to make it last?
Understanding the Man You Are Considering Marrying
* Is this man willing to let me be my own person or does he want to control me?
* Does he want me to baby him or to wait on him?
* Who does this man view as the authority in the family?
* What kind of a man is he? Is he someone I can love, trust, and admire?
* Can I confide in him?
* Is he mature enough to be a husband and a dad? Will he change in the future?
* Does he still have a lot of growing up to do?
* Do I think I can change this man after marriage? What if I can't? Can I accept him then?
* What faults does this man have? Can I accept them for life?
* Does this man treat me the same when we are alone as when we are with his friends and family?
* Can I get along with this man's friends and family? Can he get along with mine?
* How well do we communicate? Can we share feelings?
* How much do we argue? Does one person always give in to the other?
* Has this man ever physically or emotionally abused me?
* Does he have a jealous nature?
* Does he have a drug or alcohol problem?
* Does he cheat on me?
* What kind of family background does he have? How much will it influence the type of husband and father he will be?
* If I marry this man, will we have the finances and the maturity to make this marriage work?
* Who is going to get a job? One or both of us?
* What happens after the baby comes? Will I keep my job or stay home? How will that work out? Do I like this arrangement?
* Will we share finances? Can we budget?
* Will we share household tasks?
* How will we delegate job responsibilities in the home?
* Can we enjoy recreation, hobbies, and vacations together? Are our interests radically different?
* Is religion important to one or both of us? Do we have similar beliefs?
* If we have different religious beliefs, will one of us try to "convert" the other?
* How will we handle religion with our children?
* Do we agree on the number of children we want to have?
* Will we share parenting responsibilities?
* What is our philosophy of child rearing? Of motherhood? Fatherhood?
* Is sex the most important aspect of our relationship? Should it be?
* What is this man's view of sexual intimacy?
* How often will he want to have intercourse? Am I comfortable with this?
* What future goals does this man have? How does he want to meet them? Do I agree?
To Marry or Not?
Think carefully about how you answered these questions. Ask someone who knows this man well to answer the questions also. Do your answers match the other person's? What have you learned about the man you are considering for a husband? Is he good husband and parent material? Do you both have similar views? Do you have solid reasons for wanting to marry now?
If you are not sure whether you should marry, wait. Your hesitation is an indication that you have doubts. Rethink your decision and marry only when you're sure. Otherwise, you may be headed for failure. As someone commented, "It's better to be single than to be married to the wrong person."
EVALUATING AN AFFAIR
If you are involved in an affair, it means that either you or your lover is committed to someone else. One or both of you has two or more intimate relationships at the same time. For example, you or your lover may be married to, engaged to, or living with someone else. No matter which of you has committed yourself to another relationship, you are both involved in an affair.
The questions in this section will help you understand why you are involved in an affair and the consequences of continuing. They will also help you decide if you wish to remain with either of your lovers. Often people who know you or your lover, or both of you, can help you logically evaluate an affair. Discuss the questions in this section with a few of these people. Use your head as well as your heart in making a decision. You may be madly in love with a certain man, but you should ask yourself whether it is wise to continue the relationship.
* Why did you begin an affair? Were you bored? Abused? Disgusted? Alone? Was your sex life unfulfilled? Did you want excitement? Did you need financial support?
* Did you fall in love unintentionally?
* What does your lover supply that no one else does?
* What is especially attractive about your lover?
If He Is Married
* Are you comfortable with never being seen with this married man in public, never calling him at home, having to be available to him whenever he wants?
* Why did he tell you he loves you?
* What has he told you about his wife? Do you believe him? Should you?
* If you are single, have you taken yourself out of circulation to be involved with a married man? Who might you be missing?
* Do you really believe this man will someday marry you?
* Have you ever thought that a man who cheats on his wife will probably someday cheat on you? How do you feel about that?
If You Are in an Uncommitted Relationship
* Have either you or your lover made no commitments to each other? Are you comfortable with this?
* Is your lover involved with other women? Do you know for sure?
* Can you accept your lover's probable sexual involvement with others?
* Can you handle the probable end of your relationship(s) at some future time?
* Should you end your relationship(s) now? Keep one or both?
* Do you want to parent your baby in this uncommitted situation?
* Do you want to risk disease from a man who may be bed hopping? How can you protect your health if you continue sexual activity with this lover?
* Is your baby's father going to marry you or make a commitment to you? When?
* If he is married or committed to someone else, is he going to divorce his wife or sever his other relationship? When? Will he set a date and keep it?
* Do you want to continue your relationship with this man, with you always being the other woman?
If You Have Two Lovers
* Which man, of your two lovers, do you really "love"? Which one loves you? How can you tell?
* Which man is legally, emotionally, and financially ready to support you? To support your plans for your baby? Will one or both men pressure you to abort?
* Should you end one relationship and maintain the other? Should you end both relationships?
* What are the advantages of each decision? The disadvantages?
* How will both lovers react to you and to your baby?
* If you end a relationship, could a lover endanger you?
* Do you have to maintain a certain relationship? Why? If you wish to break free of this relationship, what help do you need?
* Do you need legal counsel? Police protection? A restraining order against one lover so that he faces arrest if he harasses or threatens to harm you?
* What complications of your affair, besides pregnancy, are you facing? Guilt? Deception? Fear of discovery? Organizational difficulties in maintaining two relationships? Mistrust? Other unpleasant consequences?
* Do you want to preserve two relationships? Should you?
* Must you keep each man ignorant of the other? Of the pregnancy? How can you do this and still give birth?
* Will information in Chapter Two, on keeping your pregnancy a secret, help you?
* Is there any way one man will know for certain that your baby could never be his? Do you want to continue your relationship with this man?
* Can you anticipate this man's reaction to your affair? To your pregnancy? To you? To your baby?
* Will family counseling help you both?
* Do you need to keep this pregnancy hidden?
* Will you need to live elsewhere for a while?
* Do you want to parent this child?
* Must you make an adoption plan?
* What other arrangements can you make?
Revealing Your Affair
* Is your affair over, really over?
* Does anyone know about your affair? Suspect it? Who? Will they tell? Can they prove you've had an affair? Would it be your word against theirs? Who would people believe?
* Can you counteract gossip? Will gossip force you to admit your affair?
* Does your original lover suspect your affair? Will he, ever?
* Is there a possibility, even a small one, that the baby could be his? If so, should you reveal your affair?
* What good will come to you if you admit that you've had an affair? Will you release fear or guilt? What good will your admission do for your lover?
* Will admitting your affair strengthen your relationship? How?
* If a man suspects the child is not his, how will he feel toward the child? Toward you? Himself? Your relationship?
* What good will come to your family if you tell of your affair?
* Are you afraid to reveal your affair? What reaction can you expect if you do?
* Can you regain your lover's trust if you admit to having an affair?
* Is it better to confide in a member of the clergy or counselor and not to your lover?
* Do you want to continue your relationship with your baby's father? Does he know about your original lover? Should you tell him if he doesn't know?
Deciding What to Do About an Affair
Decide what to do about an affair before making any plans for your baby. Your plans for the baby might change if your relationships change. So work on the relationships first.
Discussing your answers to these questions with someone else may help you see your affair in a clearer light. Perhaps you will decide to end one relationship or both. Do what will bring the best results in the long run, even though it may cause some temporary pain.
EVALUATING INDIVIDUAL OR GROUP PRESSURE
An individual or group may exercise control over your decisions and behaviors. You may never have thought of evaluating the influence others have on you. Now you may be told what to do about your pregnancy or your baby. Before blindly following the advice of others, evaluate your situation.
Choose the section or sections below that apply to your situation. Discuss your answers to these questions with someone who is not also influenced by the group or individual. This person might be a counselor, confidant, or member of the clergy. Your answers to these questions may help you determine the degree of pressure a person or group is exerting on you and what you should do about it.
Questions to Ask if Someone is Predicting Your Future
* Is this person giving me concrete, specific advice or general information?
* How many of the "predictions" are based on information I have already revealed?
* Is this person well versed in human behavior?
* Can this person predict what I will probably think and do by carefully observing me and by asking leading questions? Is this really foreseeing the future or is it predicting how I would probably act? Is it predicting the types of situations that someone like me is likely to encounter?
* Has this person always been accurate in directing me? Has some advice gone wrong?
* If something has not turned out as predicted, did this individual have a "reason" for what happened? Could this reason have been made up after the prediction failed?
* Is the future, as told to me, so vague or given in such symbolic terms that almost anything that happens can be said to have happened as was predicted?
* Does this person hold a position of decision-making in the community, such as a council member, judge, or board member, in which power to foresee the future would be invaluable? If not, why not?
Questions to Ask if You Feel "Bound" to an Individual
* Do I owe this person money? How much? Have I paid this person in the past? How much? What services am I paying for?
* Am I in "financial bondage" to this person?
* Do I need this person to supply me with the lifestyle I am used to having?
* What was my life like before I met this person?
* Has this person helped me to become more independent? How?
* Have I leaned on this person as an emotional crutch for decision making?
* Do I feel in control or do I feel controlled?
* Do I need confidence in making my own decisions? Is this person inspiring such confidence or not?
* Is it time to break away from this person?
Questions to Ask if You Feel "Bound" to a Group
* What do I like about this group? Why am I a part of this group? What's in it for me?
* Do I have any addictions that the group fosters? Do I want to give them up? Why or why not?
* Does this group manipulate, humiliate, or degrade me? How do I feel about this? How do I feel about myself? Why?
* What pressures does this group put on me?
* Does the group control its members? How?
* Do group members have to conform?
* Am I afraid of this group?
* Have I seen this group harm others?
* Does this group discourage professional medical care? Why? Is this safe for me? For my baby?
* Does this group encourage abortion, child abuse, or severe discipline of children?
* Am I in emotional, financial, or physical bondage to this group?
* Have I been brainwashed?
* Do I have the freedom to leave the group or is someone always with me?
* How does this group treat children born to group members?
* Does someone have plans for my child? What are they? Do I believe that they will carry these out? * Do I know my child's father? Am I afraid of him? Is he a group member? How does this affect me?
* Am I pregnant willingly or have I been raped?
* Am I comfortable with everything that goes on in this group? What bothers me?
* Would this group accept my pregnancy? My child? Why or why not?
* Can I leave this group freely? What will happen if I try to go?
Taking Control Yourself
If your answers to these questions alarm you, you may consider leaving the controlling group or individual. Remember, no one person or group should control your life or your baby's. You have free will. You can make choices and so can your baby, in time. Call the police, a women's resource center, counseling centers, a member of the clergy, or PREGNANCY AIDgencies if you need help. Appendix H lists additional agencies to consult.