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Dear Flora: Secret Baby and Unwelcome Dog

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Dear Flora,

I'm planning to move in with my boyfriend soon, and he doesn't want me to take my dog. He keeps saying that my dog, who is admittedly really big, will be too much of an expense for us, and that we won't have the room in our apartment. She's also pretty old, and has never lived away from my parents' house, and likes the company of my younger dog, who is a breed the apartment doesn't accept. As far as the money, I have to pay my parents to keep the dogs if I leave them behind, and I wouldn't ask for his money, but he says that I should save my money for something else. I love my boyfriend and I want to marry him one day, but I'm worried that him saying that I can't have my dog will be a big problem! What should I do?

-Distressed Dog Mom

Dear DDM,

I think you're right to be concerned! But before I give my advice, I think it's important that we discuss one distinction in his language: is it that he doesn't like the idea of bringing the dog (both of them, if we're being honest,) or that he won't allow it? The first implies that he'd like to have both dogs if not for his other concerns, the other implies something much more serious.

He does bring up some valid concerns about bringing a large, older dog into a small starter apartment. Would she be able to get up and down stairs, if you're not on the first floor? Does her age mean she has special medical needs? Would she be OK alone all day in an apartment? Is the pet rent and deposit something you can afford, in addition to the money you'll be paying your parents? If you haven't already, these are questions you should ask yourself. Think about what's best for your dog's well being, instead of how to appease your boyfriend.

Now to the other issues. This man seems to have some pretty strong opinions on how you should spend your money, which seems to me to be a big red flag. Telling you that you ought to "save your money for something else" when you have to pay for the dogs' care anyway seems to say that he doesn't trust you to handle your own finances. I can't help but feel as though this kind of behavior may continue. Has he told you that you can't bring anything else to the new place? If so, I wonder whether it's wise to move in with somebody who doesn't value your input or respect your ability to manage personal finance. It seems that some difficult conversations are in order, so remember when you sit down to talk about the dog to do so calmly, and use "I feel" statements. You may find that you two have more to talk about than just the dog.

Dear Flora,

I just found out that I'm pregnant from a boyfriend I recently broke up with. I don't believe in abortion, so I'm having the baby, but I don't want to tell the dad about the pregnancy. When we were together, he was controlling and we fought a lot, so I really don't want to deal with him anymore. I really don't want to tell him I'm even pregnant, so can I just not say that I am? Please help!

-Preggers in Philly

Dear PiP,

Congratulations on your pregnancy!

I'd like to tell you that you can just avoid speaking to the father of your child ever again, but I'm afraid I have bad news on that front. I don't know about the legal aspects of keeping mum (pun intended), but it seems to me that it's less about legality, and more about the best interests of your child. Custody laws do vary greatly from state to state, and in Pennsylvania I'd say that it's likely to rule in favor of what will be best in the long-term for your baby. So if you're worried about having to share custody with a man you now seem to really dislike, you will have to if you tell him. If you choose to keep him in the dark, though, you may be caught at a later date. Social media is a powerful tool, and he may start asking questions if he sees your beautiful announcement. Unfortunately, he can definitely petition for a paternity test at any time, and then you could be in for more trouble than you bargained for.

Now let's talk about the ethics of it. Is it really the right thing to do to leave him out of it? Not to defend someone who might just be a huge creep, but you might be robbing him of the chance to be a really great dad. Some men find that they don't get along with their child's mother, but they love their babies dearly! Furthermore, and more importantly, you'd be denying your child the chance to know their father from childhood. Is that really fair to them?

Whatever you decide, make sure it's for your child's interests, not only your own. Good luck!

That's it for this week! This column is posted bi-weekly, so please submit your questions to the Google Form listed below! See you all next time.

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