Dear Prudence

Help! How Can I Tactfully Kick This Pregnant Woman Out of My House?

A newborn in the house is a line I am not willing to cross.

A person with crossed arms stands in front of an illustrated house.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Ranta Images/iStock/Getty Images Plus. 

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Dear Prudence,

I own my house but have roommates to help pay the bills. I haven’t had any problems with this arrangement and most of my roommates are old friends. Right now “Billy” has been letting his little sister, “Katy,” stay in our living room after she lost her job and apartment. Katy’s a good kid, and I don’t mind her sleeping on the sofa for a month or so until she gets back on her feet. Recently I learned that Katy is pregnant and plans on keeping the child. Since finding out, I haven’t really said anything to Katy and Billy because I don’t know how to tell them that I don’t want to have a newborn in the house. This is a line I am not willing to cross.

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Katy is not on the lease and Billy only rents month to month. I know I can legally give them notice, but I don’t want to do that if I don’t have to. How do I toe the line of being helpful while also saying, Please get out of my home?

Right now, if you keep on with your strategy of not saying anything, you’re eventually going to put yourself in a situation where you have no other option besides serving Katy, and possibly Billy, with an eviction notice. The more advance warning and clarity you can offer Katy, the better off she’ll be in the long run. In general, it’s better for everyone involved to be clear about deadlines before inviting them to sleep on your couch “until they get back on their feet,” mostly because “until someone gets back on their feet” can take anywhere from a few weeks to, you know, forever. You don’t have to bring her pregnancy into it, because you haven’t formalized your living arrangement and it sounds like it was already understood that her staying with you was temporary from the start. Figure out how much time you’re willing to let Katy continue to spend on your couch (30 days, 45, 60, whatever) and let her know that’s her move-out date, and let her make her own arrangements. But you do have to say something now, because the longer you wait, the more Katy and Billy are likely to make unfounded assumptions about the length of her stay. —Danny M. Lavery

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From: “Help! My Roommate’s Sister Is Pregnant, Jobless, and Sleeping on the Couch—Indefinitely.” (Dec. 29, 2017)

Dear Prudence,

Twenty-five years ago, my husband and I adopted our son because we believed that we were sterile. Not even a few months into the process, I learned that I was pregnant. Our son is 26, our daughter is 24. I had long thought it was suspicious how upset either of them would get when an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend were mentioned. Now I know why: a family friend saw them kissing in public. They finally admitted it to me and explained that even though they were raised as brother and sister, the fact that they knew they were not blood-related prevented them from seeing each other that way. They’ve been dating for five years, they are engaged, and they are planning to marry. How do I deal with this information? Is it even legal?

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This will certainly reduce the friction between the bride and groom’s family for wedding-planning purposes! And you’ll never have to share holiday visits with the in-laws when the grandchildren come along. A few months ago, I had a letter from a gay man in an incestuous relationship with his twin brother. They wanted to know if they should reveal their relationship to their family (I said no), but at least they had no plans to marry, even though they lived in a state that allowed gay unions. It’s true your children are not biologically related, so the genetic reason for barring sibling unions wouldn’t apply to them. Still, my legal training (which consists of a quick trip around Google) indicates that no matter that your children do not share DNA, they are legal siblings and sibling marriage appears to be illegal.

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It’s one thing to marry the girl next door. It’s another to marry the girl down the hall. Obviously, there is something shudder-inducing about your children’s revelation. They are shattering a very deep taboo. At the least, they (or you, if they won’t) need to consult with an attorney about the legal implications of their situation. Since they’ve opened up to you, you have to be open with them and explain you find their news deeply disturbing. Maybe they would agree that all four of you see a counselor together. If they intend to become each other’s intended (even if they can’t actually tie the knot) all of you are going to have to figure out how to deal with this very tangled skein. —Emily Yoffe

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From: “Help! I Just Found Out I’m Not Infertile—My Husband Had a Secret Vasectomy.” (June 11, 2012)

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Dear Prudence,

 I am a mid-30s male, and I have had a “thing” for female feet for as long as I can remember. The vast majority of previous girlfriends (and my current fiancée) have not really enjoyed this. They seem to love the massages, but anything beyond that is unacceptable. My fiancée complains that she is too ticklish to enjoy anything beyond a massage. I am not really sure what my question is here, other than wondering if maybe there is a way I can get past this, since I am committed to this woman, and as much as I want her to enjoy more than just a massage, it doesn’t seem like it is going to happen.

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You can’t make anyone enjoy anything. You may be able to find a compromise that works for the both of you, you may be able to work out an arrangement where you can indulge your foot fetish safely and discreetly outside of the relationship, you may resign yourself to accepting that massages are all you’re going to get from your fiancée when it comes to foot play, but you cannot make her enjoy having her feet treated as sexual organs if she doesn’t like it. —D.L.

From: “Help! I’m an Atheist. How Do I Convey Sympathy Without ‘Sending Prayers’?” (Jan. 19, 2016)

Dear Prudence

My parents live about two hours away from my husband and me. We see them approximately once a month and I am an only child. My husband and I have been married for eight years and during this time we have been very adamant about not having children. However, very recently, we have been discussing the possibility of having a child. Here’s the issue: My parents have recently decided to put their house on the market and move about four states away and I’m torn whether or not I should tell them that there may be a grandchild in their future. Obviously, due to unforeseen health, physical, and emotional issues, a baby may not happen and I don’t want them to put their lives on hold for a possibility. Also, I don’t want this to be a guilt trip and an “eleventh hour” plea to get them to stay closer because I truly want them to be happy and be in a place where they will enjoy. However, for example, if nothing is said, I think if they move in April and find out I’m pregnant in May, they may be quite hurt and feel blindsided. Should I tell them about a possibility and if so, how to do it in a tactful way?

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If you have a child and know your life would be better if your parents were nearby, and so would theirs, I think this is a perfectly reasonable discussion to have. You have to be clear you are not making a plea, and as they well know there’s no guarantee that a grandchild will be produced. But if they would thrill to being close enough to help with a baby, then they might feel there was some kind of bait and switch with your previously stated non-reproduction plans. I think this is a conversation best had between you and them. You lay out here very tactfully what you want to say, so just follow that script. —E.Y.

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From: “Help! My Niece Is About to Marry My Son.” (Aug. 19, 2013)

More Advice From Dear Prudence

My brother “John” married “Kim” last year. She is a perfectly nice woman, but we don’t have much in common and aren’t close. At the wedding, her mother got catastrophically drunk, sexually harassed the best man, and then got into a fight with the best man’s wife (a bridesmaid). The next morning, when the best man quietly moved tables so he wouldn’t have to sit with her, she screamed at him for “shaming” her and tried to stab him with a fork.

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