Tips to Help You Handle a Teen Pregnancy
When you first discover that your teen-aged child is pregnant or has caused a pregnancy, you can feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster. While it is natural to feel this way, you must concentrate on how to best support your child and the rest of your family. Take a deep breath, and check out the tips below.
- Your feelings of disappointment and anger are natural. But even when you feel overwhelmed, you need to focus on your child. He or she needs you more than ever before. Open and warm communication is likely to create a better, healthier outcome for your teenager.
- Respect your teen’s decisions. It is his or her job to decide what to do. Your job is to be supportive, whether or not you agree. This may take some real effort on your part. Just remember this event is truly life altering for teens, and consider that they have a right to chart their own course.
- Seek an outside counselor for your child. It may be best for him or her to talk through options with someone less emotionally involved than a family member.
- Find a confidant for yourself. Again, someone who is less personally involved may be able to see the situation more clearly. If you want to be the best possible parent and grandparent, build up your support network to help you handle issues as they arise.
- Investigate community or family resources. What assistance or services are available that would be helpful in this situation? Do a little digging and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Encourage frank communication with all family members. This is a great time to speak to the siblings of your teenager about all aspects of sexuality, including sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and pregnancy. Younger sisters of a pregnant teen-aged girl are at increased risk of becoming pregnant before reaching adulthood.
- Include the other side. If it is your daughter who has become pregnant, encourage the father of the child and his family to be involved in the conversation. If your teen-aged son has fathered a child, encourage him to take responsibility for his actions, through both financial and emotional support of mother and child.
- Prepare for the next steps. If your daughter elects to carry her pregnancy to term, encourage her to think ahead. Actions she takes now can make all the difference in her ability to raise her child successfully. It is vital that you do all you can to help her continue her education. Visit your daughter’s school and see if you can work with the personnel there to remove any obstacles to her remaining in school. Find out if there are school or community programs that can help with academics, transportation, child care, or any other issues. A better education can mean better job opportunities and a better life for her and her child
- Help your daughter find and receive medical care. It is important that prenatal care begin as early as pregnancy symptoms arise. Ensuring that she regularly visits her healthcare provider will increase her chances of having a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery.
- Once the baby has arrived, give the new family some space. Respect the boundaries of parenthood, and concentrate your energy on being a supportive and loving grandparent. Even if you live in the same home as the new parents and child, resist the urge to act as the baby’s parent.
- Offer financial support if you are able, but encourage steps toward financial independence for the new family. While it may be very difficult for a teen-aged parent to also go to school and hold a job, it can be in everyone’s best long-term interests. Even a few hours a week spent in part-time employment begins to build a valuable work ethic. Whether it is your daughter or your son who has become a teen-aged parent, it is time for him or her to begin to think and act like a responsible and caring guardian of this new child.
Parenting a teenager can often be challenging. Finding out that your teenager has become pregnant or caused a pregnancy adds a new layer of difficulty. Emotional outbursts or denying reality will not help you. Mustering your self-control and taking the steps described above will build a stronger foundation for your family. You’ve had years to learn to become a good parent. Now is the time to be a model of loving parenthood for the next generation.