It is a parent’s worst nightmare: “Mom, Dad, I’m pregnant.” We never want to hear it issued from our daughter’s mouth, but sometimes it happens, and you should be prepared.
Teen pregnancy was a very large problem in the ’80s and ’90s, and the issue is only increasing in relevancy. According to 2004 statistics, 54% of males and 44% of females have had sex by age sixteen. Most girls can’t imagine that it would ever happen to them, but parents are even less likely to believe it of their daughters. Even if you have discussed it, warned about safe sex, and encouraged abstinance, it can still happens, and the consequences are very real for both parents and child.
First and foremost, it is imperative that you discuss sex with your kids.Ten years ago, I would have said that fourteen or fifteen was an acceptable age to have “the talk,” but now I advise it as early as eleven or twelve. Just last week, one of my eight-year-old youth group members came into my office at the church and asked me about safe sex, so they are obviously learning about it somewhere. It is up to you to make sure that they learn about it the right way from you.
If, however, you are already in a situation where your daughter is pregnant, there are a few things that need to be taken care of.
1. It does no good to get angry.
Letting your daughter know that her actions have been irresponsible is one thing, because you’re right, but yelling and belittling her won’t do any good. You should thank her for coming to you, which was the right thing to do, and let her know that you are there for her 100% of the way.
2. Take her to the doctor.
Immediately after she tells you she’s pregnant, make an appointment with her gynecologist. If she’s never been to one, make an appointment with yours. Especially for teenagers aged 16 and younger, it is important for her to receive medical attention.
She should be tested for STD’s (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) since she obviously has been sexually active. The doctor will want to run blood work to make sure that she’s healthy, and an ultrasound will be scheduled to check up on the baby.
3. Gather literature on pregnancy.
If nothing else, your daughter should be educated. Now that she is going to have a baby, she should read material on prenatal care, possible disorders, and coping with teen pregnancy. She should be aware of possible side effects such as morning sickness, and she should be prepared for what is to come.
4. Talk about school.
Make sure that your daughter knows how important school is, and that she must finish it if she hopes to have a good education and a career someday. Let her know that a baby will significantly change her future, and discuss alternative schools or homeschooling if she doesn’t want to return to public school.
5. Discuss alternatives.
I don’t even want to mention abortion here, but since it is an option, I will. In very young teenagers, pregnancy complications can be so grim that you might want to bring up that possibility, especially if her doctor is worried about a specific complication.
Also discuss adoption as an alternative to keeping the baby. If you are not financially or physically able to care for this child, and she certainly isn’t, then this might be a plausible route.
6. Ask about the father.
Find out who the baby’s father is, and where he lives. If he is in high school as well, insist that you talk to his parents. If she hasn’t told him yet that she’s pregnant, now is the time to do so, because he deserves to know about his child. Even though your daughter is pregnant, she is still your child and underage, so there are some decisions that you should make for her.
Remember, as a parent, you must do what is right for your daughter and for her unborn child. Decisions at this stage can affect the rest of your lives, and you should sit down with your family and discuss the options.
The most important thing is to remain calm and positive, even when you feel like you’re about to crumble. Talk with your spouse in private about the situation, and vent then when necessary, but when it comes to your daughter, do what is best for her.
Visit www.teenpregnancy.org for more information about what to do in this situation.