There is no way to prepare for the news that your teen is pregnant. Even with an open-book policy, healthy conversations about sex, and a deep involvement in your child’s life, an unexpected pregnancy can happen.
Your initial reaction will likely be to yell, criticize, and express your frustration. After all, this is a major, life-changing event that you know will impact your child’s life for years to come. It’s natural to be overwhelmed and frightened for them. But remember, you are the most consistent thing in your child’s life. As their parent, they will look to you for knowledge, support, understanding, and guidance. You do not have to like the situation that they are now in, but you are needed. Even the most basic of caring gestures can make a monumental difference for your teen.
So, now that your child has come to you and told you the truth, what do you do? How do you put your fears, concerns and emotions aside to be what your child needs?
Below are four things you can do to relieve and comfort your son or daughter during this difficult time:
Remember Your Child is Terrified
As automatic as it can be to begin thinking of how this pregnancy will impact you, remember that your teenager will be impacted even more. You have experienced pregnancy and parenting, your child has not. This is unchartered territory for them, and all of the changes and adjustments to come can feel like an unconquerable battle. Let your child know that you understand how scared they are, and that they don’t have to face this journey alone. Sometimes, just knowing you will be there makes all the difference.
Provide Unbiased Information
Unexpected pregnancy and the options available can be a controversial topic to discuss. Many people have their own views on what the “right” decision is when it comes to unplanned pregnancies, and you may have strong opinions of your own. But it is essential to remember that it is your child that will have to live with the decision for the rest of their lives, and that only they know what will ease their mind and soul. Openly discuss the various choices they can make, help them weigh out the possible scenarios that could follow each choice, and try not to dictate how they should feel or what they should do. Ultimately, even if the choice your teen makes is not the choice that you prefer, it is not your decision to make. But your unwavering support could be the most important factor in your child maintaining their mental health and moving forward positively.
Don’t Forget Your Teen is Still a Teen
The transition from care-free teenager to young parent doesn’t happen immediately. Your child will be struggling to adjust, and may not understand the gravity of the situation they are in right away. Try not to hold this against them. If you notice your teen still wanting to go out with their friends when they should be reading educational materials, or procrastinating when it comes to making important decisions, remember how unfamiliar all of this is to them. They are in a whirlwind of change they cannot escape from. As difficult as it may be, try to be patient. Never use these behaviors to condemn your teen’s ability to be a parent. Let them learn and adapt at their own pace while gently guiding them. They’ll get there.
Parents are often quick to assume they did something wrong when their child becomes pregnant at a young age. They’ll ask themselves questions like “What could I have done differently to prevent this?” or think things like “If only I hadn’t let her go out with her friends…” But the most vital thing for any parent of a pregnant teen to know is that it’s not your fault. You did not cause this pregnancy, and you should not blame yourself. Try to be proactive in monitoring your thoughts and stop yourself from thinking negatively about your parenting. Take time for yourself to process and to prepare for the road ahead. With the right outlook and a little self-love, the journey can be much less disastrous than you initially thought.