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Annie's Mailbox

Ask Amy column

Q. I’m 18 years old and months away from graduating from high school. I can’t wait to venture into college and see new places. The only downside is that my girlfriend of 15 months is pregnant. It was a big shock. It feels as if everything I was planning is thrown away and I will never be able to experience college life and get a good job.

Don’t get me wrong, I do look forward to seeing my little one, but I just don’t have the smallest idea how to start planning for the arrival. I’m also having trouble telling my parents. I don’t know how they will take it. Please help me find the best way to tell them.

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A. One advantage of pregnancy is how long it takes — you have many months to adjust and to figure things out. You and your girlfriend should take a couple of days to talk this through privately and make some decisions about what you want to do. Your school may have a social worker who can help you talk through your immediate decisions.

Then you should each tell your respective parents. This is one of those conversations where you simply have to do your best to be intentional, respectful, and calm. Take a deep breath and say, “I have something important to tell you . . .”

I urge you both to be as calm and loving toward each other as you can be. Your parents may be quite shocked and upset, but please also give them time to adjust. They will.

You don’t have to give up your dreams — either of you. But you will need to adjust how you are going to achieve your dreams. This is one of life’s grandest challenges. You may not believe this, but I assure you that everything’s going to be OK.

Q. For more than a decade, I worked for a company that was a “dream job.” After complaining about the sexual behavior of my boss, I was fired. Not a single co-worker stood up for me publicly, but with the help of a lawyer, I got a more than decent settlement.

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When I was there, I helped several friends get jobs and was instrumental in getting one friend hired at the company. Before that, he was almost destitute. He used to conveniently drop by at dinnertime or ask for money. I probably gave this particular friend $2,000 over the course of a few years.

Recently the current employees received lavish bonuses. I read on Facebook about the luxuries my former friends are enjoying and get bummed out. But I get genuinely angry at my friend. He never once thanked me for my efforts, much less suggested he repay me for the “loans.”

Is there a tactful way to reply to my friends’ in-your-face “I’m rich!” posts online? How can I discreetly mention to my friend that now that he is rolling in the dough, maybe he could think about all those times I helped him out?

A. Given the circumstances, the best attitude for you is galloping ambivalence. Envy is unavoidable, so you should “hide” these online reminders from your news feed.

Explore your motivations with the friend you assisted with food, money, and a job. Do you want to be paid a specific sum? Do you want him to pay it forward? Or do you simply want to be acknowledged with no further strings attached?

Let’s assume you merely want to be acknowledged (and you deserve this, to be sure). Ask for it: “Do you realize you never so much as thanked me for my help over the years? I’d appreciate it if you did.”

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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