Parenting teenagers is one of the hardest jobs that you will ever have. There are many obstacles and sometime it is a learn as you go type of thing. I have two teenagers - a 13 year old boy and a 16 year old girl. My daughter is pregnant.
There is no doubt that finding out you have a pregnant teenager is going to be the beginning of a very trying time. What you do or don't do can affect your relationship with her and her relationship with her child. It will change your life but it doesn't have to be a negative thing. You may find that there are many things that you will enjoy and benefits that will enrich your life.
As the mother of a pregnant teenager I have learned a few things. You may or may not agree with me on these tips but keep in mind that these are just based on my experience.
Tips for Dealing with a Pregnant Teen:
- When she tells you, don’t react. Tell her that you need some time to think about how you feel about it. Then, take the time you need. Your first reaction might be anger, disappointment, or concern for her future – or a combination of these and other feelings. If you take some time to think about it you may find out that those were just your first reactions though.
- After you’ve thought about it you need to talk to your daughter. The truth is that the law is on her side and the final decision is hers about what she wants to do. If you’re not sure about what the options are, call a local family life centre or parenting program to discuss the options. Make sure that she is aware of her options, too.
- Find a doctor. She’ll need to have her first appointment at around 12 weeks – maybe earlier if she is really young. At the first appointment she will have a physical examination. You should prepare your daughter for what will happen during the physical examination. Describe the actions and prepare her for how she might feel.
- Contact a local family life centre or parenting centre to get her signed up for classes and support. She might have a lot of questions that she is not comfortable answering or you are not able to answer. She should have someone that she can call besides her girlfriends.
- Encourage her to consider all the options. If she decides to keep the baby you will have to decide what role you are going to play in her and the baby’s life. Will you help out with childcare? Will you expect her to get a job to help pay for expenses? Who is going to take care of the baby while she is in school?
- Talk to a guidance counsellor at her school to find out what options are available. Can she take a reduced course load? Is daycare available on site? Do they have Family Life courses that can help her?
- Talk to her about the baby’s father. Does he know? Does he want to be involved? If he does want to be involved it might be a good idea to have a meeting with the boy’s parents to see how supportive they plan on being.
- Get support for yourself. This may be as simple as family supports or more formal supports, like a counsellor. You are going to have a lot of ups and downs and you will need support as much as she does.
- Have a family meeting. If she is keeping the baby and living at home everyone in the family should be involved.
Having a pregnant teenager is not likely what you envisioned for this part of your daughter’s life but sometimes it happens. It may not be your choice and you might have tried to teach her about birth control or you might be an advocate of no sex until marriage. The bottom line though is that it does happen and if it does you need to remember that it can affect your life and hers and the child’s in a positive or a negative way. It all depends on how you handle it.