Our son is 17, and his girlfriend is 16. It’s hard to admit a teen pregnancy to anyone — and it’s hard to accept that our son has made such a serious mistake. What does he most need to hear from us?
We’re so glad you reached out. You’re facing a difficult challenge, to be sure. But handled the right way, it can become a valuable teaching opportunity. There’s nothing like a healthy dose of reality for a young man in your son’s position. Yes, he’s made a serious mistake — but mistakes can be important stepping stones to maturity and adulthood.
Remember the teen girl involved
Your whole family can play an important part in guiding the expectant mother (still a young woman) through this new experience. She needs to be reminded of the value of the precious life she’s carrying. Together with her mom and dad, you can help her weigh and balance her options as a pregnant teen and decide what her personal goals and objectives should be at this point in her life. She won’t be able to do this well without the assistance of wise, caring, and life-affirming adults.
Depending on your son’s and his girlfriend’s attitudes, you and the girl’s parents may want to check out Margie and Greg Lewis’ book The Hurting Parent: Help and Hope for Parents of Prodigals. Additional resources and referrals to local teen pregnancy centers can be found through OptionLine’s website. And Focus on the Family’s Counseling department maintains a list of residential options and can provide further personal assistance.
Remember that your relationship with your son is changing
The template is shifting from “parent-child” to “adult-adult.” At his age, your son is trying very hard to become his own person. Whether he realizes it or not, he’s trying to say that he’s no longer dependent upon you. He’s moving deliberately away from your control.
Unfortunately, this situation has put him in an awkward position. He desperately needs your understanding and for you to help him respond appropriately. You can’t necessarily “parent” him or “discipline” him at this point in his life — not like you did when he was 6 or 7. But you can give him sound guidance.
Unlike a teen mom who has to deal with the presence of a growing life inside her womb, a teen dad can find it easy to separate himself from the situation. So part of your role will be to see that this doesn’t happen:
- Gently but firmly insist that he face the fallout of his choices.
- Talk to him about the sanctity of human life.
- Help him think about the tremendous responsibility of bringing a child into the world.
- Encourage him to discuss these issues openly and honestly with his girlfriend and her parents.
- Urge him to consider how he can take an active role in the pregnancy, the birth, and the crucial decisions that lie ahead.
Remember that help is available
We’d strongly suggest that all of you find professional counseling. Our licensed and pastoral counselors would be happy to talk with you, your son, his girlfriend, or her parents. They can help you to set boundaries, establish expectations, and clarify the consequences of your son’s failure to abide by them. Call us for a free over-the-phone consultation.
In the meantime, never forget that the Lord is with you. He won’t fail to lead and guide you as you place your trust in Him.
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Pro-Life Advocacy & Encouragement (resource list)