Son’s Girlfriend Is Pregnant: Marriage As a Possible Solution

Should our son be encouraged to marry his pregnant girlfriend? It's a regrettable situation, but at least she's planning to keep and raise the baby. Both of them are emotionally immature, financially dependent, and basically ill-equipped to establish themselves as a family. In spite of this, some of our Christian friends have suggested that he marry the girl and "make an honest woman of her." What advice can you offer?

Let’s back up a minute. Before discussing marriage, we need to spend some time thinking about what it’s going to take for your son and his girlfriend to grow up and become marriageable adults. It’s all well and good to talk in terms of making the girl an “honest woman.” But let’s see if something can’t first be done to turn the boy into an “honest man.”

That process begins when your son is urged to take full responsibility for his actions and choices. He needs to do this in any case, whether marriage is part of the equation or not. Having fathered a child, he ought to assume the duties of a father. He should get a job (if he doesn’t already have one) and dedicate a substantial portion of his earnings to the financial support of mother and baby. He should also make an intentional and committed effort to stay engaged as a dad. Obviously, this piece of the puzzle will have to be re-evaluated if the girl chooses to move away and raise their child elsewhere.

To put it another way, your son’s first assignment is to accept and embrace the real-life consequences of the choice he’s made. And your assignment is to allow this to occur. Why do we say this? Because we know how hard it is for parents in your position to resist the temptation to rush to the rescue. If our hunch is correct, you’re probably feeling a strong sense of “ownership” for your grandchild. You may also want to seize the reins and make sure that everything is done properly and everyone is adequately provided for. This could be the reason you’re willing to take a closer look at the option of a so-called “shotgun wedding.” If that’s the case, we’d advise you to stop, take a deep breath, and think again.

Look at it this way. Your son’s actions have entailed a very real loss for everyone concerned. All of you need to be prepared to accept that loss for what it is and spend some time grieving over it. On your side, this may mean letting go. You have to relinquish control and recognize that you are not necessarily in a position to influence the destiny of the child. Nor can you determine the shape of the parents’ future relationship. There are aspects of this unfortunate situation that are simply out of your hands.

To a certain extent, this loss is irrecoverable. Some things have been forfeited that can never be regained no matter what you do. This is why you need to be very careful about grasping at marriage as a “quick fix” for your son’s dilemma. Quick fixes rarely work. They’re never a substitute for genuine redemption of a bad situation. That takes grace, courage, and creativity. It may even require a certain amount of redemptive suffering.

If you and your son want to start moving in this direction, we suggest you begin by getting some professional counseling. Don’t rush the process. Take as much time as you need. Face the situation squarely and come up with some workable solutions. You may also want to talk to the staff of a local Pregnancy Resource Center to find out what kind of support is available to the young couple and their child.

As circumstances permit, sit down together and sift through all of the practical implications of this pregnancy. Where will mom and baby live? How will expenses be paid? Who will cover them? What about balancing jobs and financial responsibilities with educational requirements? How will you establish appropriate roles and suitable boundaries for parents and grandparents? Are you and your son prepared to face the social pressures that are likely to arise as you travel this road together? Don’t underestimate the power of peer-group opinion. It can place formidable obstacles in the way of righteous, responsible action.

Once you’ve talked all this out it might be appropriate to broach the subject of marriage. Naturally, there’s a long list of important considerations you’ll want to include in this discussion. Do your son and his girlfriend genuinely love one another? Are they ready to commit themselves to the task of building and maintaining a solid marriage and a stable home? Are their families capable of mentoring them and supplying practical assistance along the way? Are they both believers, or do they have spiritual differences that need to be worked out before moving ahead? No marriage can be expected to go the distance unless it’s firmly grounded, both spiritually and in terms of practical resources. It goes without saying that an unintended pregnancy doesn’t qualify as a reliable foundation for a life-long relationship.

If the necessary elements of a strong Christian marriage are present – and we realize that this may be a very big “if” – then there’s no reason why the young couple shouldn’t take a closer look at matrimony. But they should be prepared to face some struggles in the process and to seek outside help when the road gets rough.

One last thought. A hasty marriage isn’t necessarily the only way to provide for the future of this child. Your son and his girlfriend may want to consider making an adoption plan for their baby. As you probably know, there are many Christian families who are in a good position to adopt. In lots of cases they are willing to cooperate and communicate with the birth family. We think it would be a good idea to pray about this option and explore the possibilities as the Lord leads.

If you, your son, or his girlfriend feel you need professional assistance, call us for a free consultation. Our counselors would consider it a privilege to discuss your situation with you over the phone. They can also provide you with referrals to qualified marriage and family therapists practicing in your area who can help you sort out your options.


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