"I'm having a baby." Over one million teens in this country say these words each year. If you find that your teen is pregnant, you may have some very strong emotions. You will probably feel angry, disappointed, and may grieve the dreams you had for your child. It is a hard time. The important thing to know is that your teen needs you now more than ever. Your teen needs your love, support, and advice.
Most unmarried teens don't plan on getting pregnant, and they are usually scared when it happens. Many keep the news of their pregnancies secret because they fear the anger and disappointment of their parents. When a teen gets pregnant, many parents blame themselves. It does not do any good to place blame. Your teen needs to get some good advice from people he or she can trust. There are many important decisions to make.
It may be helpful to have teens talk with a family counselor, someone who can help them think through all the pros and cons of each option. Counselors can help pregnant teens face the reality of parenthood, not the fantasy. Teen girls may get pregnant to hold onto a boyfriend, or to have something of their own to love. They do not think about the daily tasks of parenting such as dirty diapers, infants crying at night, and the loss of freedom. Teen boys who are going to become fathers also need advice and support. Although some boys want to be involved with their children, others feel scared and guilty. The father is legally responsible for child support in every state. That doesn't mean, however, that you should pressure your teen into an unwanted marriage. There is no one best solution.
A teen who is pregnant has 3 choices to consider. One is to place the baby for adoption. Another is to have a termination of pregnancy (also called a TOP or an abortion), and the other is to raise the child. Today there is less shame in being a teen parent. But as adults know, being a parent is a huge responsibility. It may be helpful to have teens talk with a family counselor, someone who can help them think through all the pros and cons of each choice.
Your daughter has the right to decide what she wants to do with her pregnancy. No matter what her decision, a counselor can help her through the strong emotions she will be feeling. Often, teens who become pregnant drop out of school. The teen needs to be supported to stay in school. Some schools provide a school for teen mothers, where childcare is also offered. An education or specific job training will help the teen to have a better job in the future, and able to support the child.
As hard as it may be, your teen needs your honest advice and your love.