How you can support your pregnant teen

September 7th, 2010 | Posted in Pregnant Teen by

One of the debates currently taking place in many states is over the right of a minor child to have an abortion without parental consent. One of the arguments that some people make for this proposition is that teens may not feel safe telling their parents that they are pregnant, for fear of being ostracized from the family, told to leave their home or worse. This is a fear that as a society, we should try our best to eliminate, so that parents will always have the opportunity to know what is happening in their child’s life, and to be involved. Although no parent wants their teen child to become pregnant, sometimes in spite of the best discussions about abstinence and prevention, it can happen. How can you make your teen feel safe telling you about the situation that she is in?


Always keep open communication between you and your teenage girl. Let her know that no matter what may happen in her life, that you will always love her. This is not condoning extramarital sexual behavior, as you can certainly express that you would feel very disappointed if she were to end up pregnant at such a young age, and that you would not want either her or a child to experience the consequences of teenage parenthood. How can you handle the situation, however, if an unplanned teenage pregnancy does occur?

Your first thoughts and actions should be centered on the welfare of your child, and for the well-being of her unborn child, rather than worrying about what friends and acquaintances may think. Although many people put on very respectable fronts, it is the rare family who has not experienced a crisis of some sort or another, and people may be more understanding than you expect, especially if you do not act defensively. While you are certainly free to express your disappointment with your daughter’s choices, and probably should, your daughter needs your support at this time more than any other time in her life.

Try to determine what factors led to the situation. Is she involved with a long-term boyfriend and birth control failed? In this case, it would be appropriate to discuss what the role of the father will be in the care and upbringing of the child, as well as his continuing role in your daughter’s life. The father should also be prepared to discuss the situation with his parents. Both families should be able to get together and discuss the future of the unborn child.

What if the father is not someone who she is attached to? She may feel embarrassment at her predicament, and not want to notify the father of the child, or she may have already done so, and been rebuffed, which can be emotionally devastating. In this case, you will want to have a discussion with her about why she chose to engage in promiscuous behavior, and try to get at the root of why she has been acting out sexually, particularly if she is very young. A good therapist’s support can be valuable at this time. Regardless of her attachment to the father, and his interest or lack thereof, you must advocate for her to receive the child support that she and the child are entitled to. This may entail having an awkward conversation with the father’s parents, but remember that you are your child’s best advocate.

Talk to your teen about the options that you feel may be appropriate, such as adoption, abortion or keeping the baby. Many teens will want to keep the baby, and with support from the father, this is a viable option. Of course you will need to serve as a source of support for both your daughter and her baby. Try to resist the urge to insist upon your daughter having an abortion if she is against it. A perceived forced abortion can leave psychological scars and feelings of lasting guilt and helplessness. You may want to meet with different adoption agencies to see if this would be a good option for your family. If your family is against adoption, remember that it can be very damaging for a child to be raised by a mother who does not want that child. Likewise, forcing your child to raise her child if she is not prepared can also be a mistake. While you may naturally feel feelings akin to “you made your bed, now lie in it,” bear in mind that the unborn child will be the one lying in that hypothetical bed as well. Remember, as young as she is, she made the choice to engage in premarital sex, and she should have a voice in what happens after this point.  Don’t forget, you initially chose to have a child yourself. You have created a family. This ne unborn child is your family as well!

It is good to have a discussion about how the pregnancy will affect the family, and sacrifices that will need to be made. Before she makes a choice about the pregnancy, she needs to know the facts about what is involved in raising a child, both emotionally and financially. Does she want to stay in contact with the father? If he is an older man, and your daughter is young, you may want to look into filing statutory rape charges. Each situation is unique, and it will take every ounce of your support to see her through this situation and make sure that she is safe.

It is a good idea to take your daughter to the ob/gyn immediately for a prenatal check-up and general exam. It is important to make sure that she has not contracted any venereal diseases that could harm her fetus. If the pregnancy is a result of acting-out behavior, you may also want to request that a drug screen be done. In most cases, your child’s insurance should cover pregnancy as well, so the out of pocket expenses will be minimal. If you do not have insurance, check with Planned Parenthood, as they will be able to give you the appropriate referrals for adequate prenatal care.

Once you and your daughter have agreed upon a course of action, do not continue to express disappoint and anger towards her. It will make a situation that is already difficult unbearable for her. If you are having difficulty with your feelings of frustration and disappointment, which are perfectly normal, it is a good idea to talk regularly with a friend, or perhaps enlist the aid of a counselor.

You will want to be there for your daughter every step of the way, regardless of which course of action she decides to take with your guidance. You are a family, and strong families get through difficult times together. If your daughter decides to keep her baby, try to see the child as a blessing. This shift in attitude can make a big difference towards improving the emotional atmosphere in your home. Keep the lines of communication open at all times, while making it clear what her responsibilities will be. When parents are supportive during difficult times, as a society, we are able to keep difficult familial decisions out of the hands of the courts, and in the hands of the family, where they almost always belong.

— written by Michelle Gaut

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