Every parent wants to protect their children from difficulties and help prevent unforeseen pregnancies. The best way to help is to teach them about abstinence and safe sex. However, we can’t protect our children from everything. Sometimes unplanned pregnancies happen to teenagers and many parents are left feeling helpless. Honesty and open communication befitting a parent-child relationship is the key to supporting your son or daughter. Handling the situation as a parent requires delicate word choices, deliberate actions, and quick planning.
Both sides of the family, the mother’s parents and the father’s parents, should meet with the teens to discuss the practical needs for the pregnancy and after birth. Having a clear understanding and agreement of how to care for your children and their coming baby will make the transition from being parents to being parents and grandparents smoother.
When Your Daughter Is Pregnant
When a young woman, a teen, is pregnant she may be judged by others and can begin to feel like an outcast to friends and family. As her parents, it’s important to provide a safe place for her even if you feel disappointed in her actions. Don’t yell at or alienate her; she will likely get that from everyone else. Instead, carefully choose how you react. If you don’t condone her actions, that’s okay, but it is imperative to let her know that you love her and are ready to support her. This is not the time for lectures.
After the initial surprise, you need to accept the reality and gravity of the situation. Emotions can run high, but it is important to not let that stand in the way of the practical needs for your daughter and her baby. Find a doctor for her to see throughout her pregnancy. The earlier you do this, the better. Not only will it be better for health reasons, but also to help everyone involved understand the impending birth. Sometimes pregnant teens and their parents feel distant from the birth, like it is far into the future. By seeing a doctor regularly it will help you all to feel connected and prepared.
Once the physical needs are taken care of, focus on the emotional needs for you as the parent and for your pregnant daughter. Whether you see counselors or respective support groups, having a place to get support outside of the family can help diffuse stressful times. By both the parent and the daughter going to counseling you can communicate better at home by listening to each other’s concerns and supporting each other appropriately.
When Your Son Is Going to Be a Father
When a teen son tells his parents that he is going to be a father he may be blamed or pressured to take the blame. While it is important for him to take responsibility for his circumstances he cannot be solely to blame. Instead of lecturing him about his choices and what he needs to do to “be a man” you should listen to what he has to say and try to hold back judgement.
The pregnancy period is difficult for any father and especially so for a teen father. Help him stay involved by taking him to some of the doctor’s visits and educating him about the baby’s development. In the meantime, helping him prepare for fatherhood is essential. Give him words of affirmation about things that he is good at, that he is strong and capable, and that he can be a great father. It might also be prudent to ask if he wants counseling or to join a support group. Parenting classes are a wonderful way for him to learn about the responsibility of being a father. Attending classes with the baby’s mother can help to solidify plans and goals in caring for their child.
Whether you’re the parent of the mother or the father, never forget that they are your children. Loving them and supporting them through difficult times helps you grow stronger together and creates a loving atmosphere into which the baby will be born.