Whether you have a suspicion that your teenage daughter could be pregnant or she just broke the news to you, your head is probably spinning with a million different thoughts and emotions. How could this happen? What do we do now? Who is the father? What will other people think?
This is to be expected, precisely because you were NOT expecting this. You might be angry, disappointed, and/or scared. Scratch that – you are definitely angry! If you’re her father, you are probably one second away from speeding down the street to have a “chat” with your daughter’s boyfriend. If you’re her mother, you may be thinking, how in the world is my daughter going to handle a pregnancy?! Or, you are wishing you had just one more of those “birds and the bees” chats.
Remember, your daughter likely did not want this to happen either. Think how frightened she must be! Pregnancy is foreign to her. She has made the adult decision to have sex, and now she is faced with the adult consequence of pregnancy. The best thing you can do right now is to keep your emotions steady and encourage your daughter to take responsibility for her actions and accept the consequences.
If you’re a pregnant teenager and you’re on this page, try to use it to get some insight into how your parents may be feeling and how you can react to keep the tension down.
How To Respond When She Breaks The News (Or How Not To)
Take a deep breath. Try not to let your emotions take over and dictate what you say to your daughter – this is a delicate moment, after all. This might mean sitting in silence for a few minutes to gather your thoughts before responding. Here are a few things you may be feeling:
It is okay to feel these ways; actually, it is rather natural. What is not okay is lashing out in anger, saying things that you know you’ll regret later, or kicking her out of the house immediately. This is still your daughter, no matter what she has gotten herself into.
You’re probably fuming. Yes, she has disappointed you. Yes, she probably broke quite a few of your rules. And yes, she may not even be sorry about it. But, she is now responsible for a tiny life growing inside her. And since she is still under your roof, you are partially responsible as well. That means that if you kick her out, you are 1) endangering your own daughter and 2) you are endangering your growing grandbaby.
Here are some suggestions from mothers and fathers of teenagers:
“The first thing you’re going to have to do is accept the situation. You’re not going to want to believe what you’re hearing, but before you can move forward and be constructive and support your daughter, you’ve got to come to terms with the situation. It is what it is.”
“You’re going to be angry – that’s just how it’s going to be. But try not to take that out on your daughter. Believe me – nine months of pregnancy is going to be punishment enough, and if she decides to parent, 18 years of dependency. Of course, you can add punishments on top of that, like no phone, no car…etc. In the end, let her know you’re mad, disappointed, whatever you’re feeling…but try to do so calmly.”
“Hear her out. Maybe her excuses, reasonings, or plans sound plain idiotic to you, but listen and see how it can help you understand where she’s coming from. And that’s what is important, right? Making sure you understand each other, especially in a stressful situation?”
“Guide her towards taking responsibility for her actions. If you let her off the hook here, that sets a bad example for dealing with big issues in the future. Help her become a responsible soon-to-be mom (or birth parent, should she choose adoption). Let her take responsibility for the doctors visits, prenatal vitamins, and getting a job to be able to provide. Let her decide how to coordinate childcare and school and a job at the same time. Let her fail; it might be hard to watch, but that’s how we learn.”