We all want the best for our children and we all have an idea for how we imagine their life will pan out. Normally this involves them getting good jobs, meeting a loving partner, getting married, buying a house and having kids. We want them to be smart and to enjoy their work and we want them to live a full life with lots of experiences before they settle down. And in a perfect world we’d hope that maybe they make some kind of impact on the world and change something or write a great work.
But sometimes things don’t go to plan, and sometimes your children’s lives end up being derailed. Of course as a parent this is a highly distressing and upsetting time, and it can be hard to know what to do for best.
One such example is teenage pregnancy. The implications of your teenage daughter becoming pregnant are far reaching and it can affect almost every aspect of that ideal life trajectory. Your teenager might be forced to drop out of education in order to look after the child, they or the father might need to start working early to afford to start the family, hopes of them traveling or progressing in a career will be dashed and it’s not for about twenty years – at which point your child will be in their late thirties – that they will get back some sense of freedom. The financial strain will be incredibly great, and there may be the simple fact that they aren’t ready to raise a child. Here we will look at what you can do to help your child through their teen pregnancy, and we will look at what the best way is to react.
When you first hear about the pregnancy you are of course going to be shocked, and you are unlikely to react well to begin with. However it is still important to make sure that you react in a measured way and that you remember the most important thing – comforting and being there for your child. You will of course be disappointed at what has happened, and you might be shocked to know that your child is already sexually active and not using protection – but remember that that’s all in the past now and there is nothing you can do to change it. If your child has become pregnant then you need to address the matter in hand and to focus on being supportive. The situation is punishment enough for them and they are likely very scared and upset that their life is going to change forever, they need their parents right now so this should be your first priority. Tell your child it will be alright and that you will love them no matter what and stay optimistic. And remember, if they decide to go through with it then they will be bringing a new life into the world and starting a family so regardless of the circumstances this is call for celebration.
Discussing the Options
Hopefully your child will have told you or you will have learned of what’s happening early on and that will mean you still have several options available to you. It is your job now to help your child to understand the options and to know the pros and cons of each. This is their decision to make and whatever your views on the matter you should let them make the decision that they want to make and you should respect that. No one can deny a mother’s right to keep her child or to terminate the pregnancy and that’s what your child is now – a mother. Make sure you have researched thoroughly all the options and all of the procedures so that you can be fully informed and provide your child with all the information they might need. By going the extra mile you will be better positioned to help and the ultimate outcome will be more favorable.
At the same time though if your child does choose to abort the pregnancy then you should make sure that they understand the gravity of the choice so that it doesn’t happen again. Abortions can be dangerous to the mother, they are expensive and they are morally dubious – so this is not an alternative to contraception and it’s important that this learning experience ensures that your daughter is more careful in future. Be supportive and respectful, but if they seem to be taking it too lightly then make sure they understand how serious the situation is.
If your child is pregnant then it means she had unprotected sex with someone and this means you have other possible concerns which will revolve around the man. It’s important that your daughter also discusses her options with the man who has a right to be involved as the father. If you haven’t met the man before then it is important that you do and that you get to know them – and this might help to inform your decision on whether or not to keep the baby. Is he a mature and responsible young adult who has the means to support a family? Or is he young and reckless and unprepared?
If your daughter doesn’t really know the boy, then you will need to think about whether or not you want to track him down to inform him – and more importantly it will be important to have your daughter checked for STIs, not least because they can affect the course of the pregnancy. It’s not nice to think about, but it’s an important consideration that can be forgotten in the light of everything else.
Having the Baby: Practical Considerations
If your daughter decides to go ahead with the pregnancy then you need to think of some practical implications and considering these early on can help avoid future problems. For instance is your daughter going to drop out of education/work or is she going to try and complete her studies? Is it possible to complete her work from home? Will you be financially able to support your child as a family and if not are you eligible for benefits that can help? How else could you raise the money? And how involved are you going to be as a grandparent? They will be living under your roof most likely (unless you decide to fund them in moving out as a family), so you will already be more involved that perhaps is usual – but will you be able to look after the child while your daughter goes to college? Are you able to? Are you willing? Is it necessary? You also need to avoid overstepping the mark and making your daughter feel pushed out as the mother which can be very upsetting for them.
Should They Keep It?
All of these decisions will hinge on the decision of whether or not to keep it. There are many pros and cons of either decision and this is something, as mentioned, that only they can decide. That said you will no doubt have a big impact on their eventual decision so it’s important to help them to decide.
The positive aspects of keeping the child are that your daughter might want to keep it, and depending on how far the pregnancy has progressed she may be starting to feel attached already to the child. At the same time if your daughter or your family hold religious beliefs then you might feel obligated to keep it, and you might be worried about what the rest of your community would think of an abortion. Your daughter likewise might be scared of the abortion, or might just like the idea at this point of starting a family – particularly if the partner is sticking around and they are in love. In any of these cases you should honor your daughter’s decision and do what you can to help. If you and your daughter can afford to move them out into their own home, if they are going to be around to help look after the child, if they are in their latter teenage years, and if they seem mature then all of this will make them more suited to keeping the child.
The downsides of course are that your child will have to focus on raising the child and this will mean that they are forced to forgo other things like traveling or further education giving them less life experience. This can be highly upsetting for your child if they are still young at heart and career driven, and they might not yet be ready to raise a child. This can be further compounded by the unusual circumstances – especially if the partner is not around and they are still living at home which will result in the child being unsure who its parents actually are. Financially raising a child may not be viable, and your daughter might also be scared of child birth and worried about losing friends and being judged by members of public as a teenage mum – it could be a lot quicker and easier to have the pregnancy terminated early and to avoid a very difficult subsequent 20 years that can potentially ruin several lives.
Coming to Terms
So there are many pros and cons of either situation and either way it is not desirable. As a parent it’s your job to just inform your child and to give them lots of love and support while they make their decision. Once they’ve made their mind up you need to think of the consequences and the practical aspects and make sure that you help as best as you can.
You also need to come to terms with their decision and the new situation. Try to focus on the positive either way – if they have a new child then that’s great: you now have a grandchild to love and support too and they will likely be very happy as a new mother. You’d be surprised at how a teenage pregnancy can change your daughter and though she might not seem ready now, she will soon learn. And if she does go through with the abortion on the other hand then just view it as an innocent mistake that will provide an important learning curve and help them to avoid similar mistakes in future.