Dealing with teen pregnancy: 'mum, dad…I’m pregnant'
Teen pregnancy is an emotional topic that could easily change the entire dynamics of a family. Read more to find out how to cope with a teen pregnancy and what to do next as a parent.
‘I’m pregnant,’ is one of the last things any parent wants to hear their teen say. But the fact of the matter is 7 out of 10 teen girls are having sex before they turn 18 -- making teen pregnancy a very likely and scary reality. With teen pregnancy becoming so common, how should parents be dealing with it?
What to say
The spectrum of emotions that flood your heart and mind when you hear those words range from anger, disappointment, sadness, shock, fear, and everything else in between. These feelings are completely understandable. But you’re the parent, the one who has to be the voice of reason. First, it is important to address the issue at hand maturely and calmly.
What to do
Once you catch your breath, you need to get the situation under control and have a serious discussion with your daughter. These are some questions to ask and things to consider:
- Who is the baby’s father? Has your daughter told him? What did he say? Do you know this young man? What are his intentions?
- What are the options for your daughter and her baby? Marriage? Giving the child up for adoption? Raising the baby alone (with your help)? What does your daughter want to do?
- Schedule an appointment with an OB-GYN for you and your daughter to attend together.
- Talk to the parents of the baby’s father.
- Assure your daughter that you will be there to emotionally and physically support her to the best of your ability. Let her know that finishing school is a must and that having a baby will change her life, but that it doesn’t have to ruin her life.
If your daughter stays in your home unmarried and continues education, you should remain consistent in your expectations from her in education, respect for house rules, use of car and so forth. You will have to implement rules about staying home on weekends because she has a big responsibility, which she can’t overlook. You need to take the necessary steps to ensure your daughter is trained in basic child-care and first aid.
If your daughter marries the baby’s father, you will have to back off a little bit. However, you will need to be emotionally and physically supportive of helping a young, struggling and statistically doomed young couple. You will need to give them the means to finish school, understand parenthood, maintain their individuality and learn to be a couple. Giving can come in the form of babysitting/childcare, a few extra groceries now and then, or allowing them to do laundry at your house.
If your daughter chooses to give her baby up for adoption, you’ll need to allow her time to grieve, time to readjust to life as a new and changed person. This will best be done through counselling and love.
There are numerous resources available for teen mums and their families. Don’t hesitate to get help from clergy, school counsellors, pregnancy and family resource centres.
Most of all keep the lines of communication open and remember that your grandchild did not ask to be born. This precious little person deserves to be loved and have every opportunity to live life to the fullest and best.
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Check out this video that has more on teen pregnancy: