Should you tell your kids you've had an abortion?

While at a dinner one day, I heard a mother tell her adult son a story about how she wanted to abort him. That's right, just a "Could you pass the peas please and by the way I really wanted to abort you but your father wouldn't let me." Later, I heard another mother tell her children about how she aborted their sibling for no other reason than birth control. I've never had an abortion, but I look at my own son knowing that it took us two years to conceive him and wonder how a mother could say such things to her child. It occurred to me that while there might not be a right way to say it at all, surely there had to be a better approach.

Think about your future children before you have an abortion. I'm not advocating abortion because frankly, my opinion on the matter is irrelevant here. I've never had to consider abortion or adoption as an option. However, I would urge future mothers to consider that what we do now often haunts our futures through the eyes of our children.

Talk about it in private. Seriously, you just can't mix family dinners with confessions of thoughts of aborting one of your living children. Unless you really want to crush the self-esteem of your offspring in front of the entire family, take your son or daughter aside and explain the entire situation to him or her.

Own your mistakes. If you made a youthful mistake, let your child know it. Don't make excuses for yourself. If you have to tell your child about an abortion or you feel the need to let them know you almost aborted them -- and I don't know why you would -- don't excuse it. Own it.

Explain the development of a fetus. Children have no idea about the process of the creation of a human being. They don't know the difference between a zygote and a fetus. When you tell a child you are or were pregnant, they have an image in their mind of a baby. It's your job to explain the actual process.

Don't publicize it. I recently read an article about a woman suing because she would have aborted her child had she known that the child was going to be disabled. Her child happens to be physically disabled, so there's a good chance that one day he will be Googling and will read about his mother's desire to abort him and will be able to understand what that means. Need I say more?

Expect a childish reaction. As a child, I learned that a sibling had been aborted. One day, I was playing with my Barbie and Ken dolls. I had one bed and all I knew was that a couple slept together and along came a baby. Of course Barbie and Ken slept together, but I didn't have a baby Barbie doll. There in the living room, in front of my whole family, Barbie got out of bed and announced to Ken that she was on her way to have an abortion. I was using simple logic in my pretend play. In turn, my father used his logic and some creative parenting to try and understand why his 8-year-old daughter was making decisions about an imaginary abortion. In the first place, at 8 years old, I should have never had this information, but I may have been better socially equipped had someone explained things to me.

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