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When your teenage daughter first breaks the news to you, you may feel shock, disappointment, despair, or embarrassment or all of those feelings at once. You may think, “All of her (and our!) hopes, dreams and plans are over.” Though there may be disappointment in your daughters choices, this is a moment to prepare for a major life transition. You can make it through. Other families have walked this road, too. Here are some strategies with how to deal with teenage pregnancy.
Steps for You
Stay calm. This is an important time to listen. Avoid assigning blame or condemning, and focus on the positive. Remember, it’s a blessing that she is talking to you and including you in this conversation as she navigates her next steps.
Listen & Understand
Try to understand her fears. She is probably overwhelmed and scared about the pregnancy. She could be feeling alone and wondering what her options are. Feelings of shame and losing your love could be clouding her thoughts. This is a future she may not have planned and many of her friends may not be sympathetic to her pregnancy. Be there for her.
Be an asset to your daughter by reassuring her of your unconditional love and concern. Tell her you will be with her. Sharing wisdom gently, gained through your life experiences, can be a valuable component in your daughter’s next steps.
“7 But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you[a]—see that you excel in this act of grace also.”2 Corinthians 8:7
Support your daughter’s pregnancy by offering to tell close family members or friends about the pregnancy. Siblings may offer her unique sympathy too. Any one of the friends or family members may have good suggestions regarding resources that you haven’t thought of. Ultimately, the goal is to unite everyone in support for her. In addition, when she is ready, you can help her understand the journey ahead of her. Talk through the options available to her such as marriage, adoption, single parenting, college courses, etc.
Advocate for Your Teen
She can’t read your mind and may even doubt that you care about her teen pregnancy. Remind her of your love for her. When people around her give her judgement, stand up for your teen and the baby she is growing. This is a time for grace and mercy even though it is tough; therefore, consider saying some of the following:
- “I still love you. No matter what.”
- “I will support you during this life transition.”
- “I’m here for you and will help you in whatever way I can.”
- “You do have options for you and the baby.”
- “Some people may judge you; however, many more will extend their compassion.”
- “You are ultimately accountable to God, not other people.”
- “Many people have found ways to make this work.”
Be willing to listen as she talks about her feelings and then listen some more. Talk through options so she can make rational, thoughtful decisions. Respect her privacy. (Allow her to ponder personal thoughts.) Respect her feelings about the baby’s father (whether the relationship continues or discontinues). Offer to assist the baby’s father into responsible co-parenting, if appropriate.
Steps for Your Teen’s Pregnancy
Remember there are helpful avenues available for you pregnant daughter. Ultimately, though, it’s your daughter and the life inside of her who are affected by the decisions made. Face this situation together and help give her all the resources she may need during the pregnancy.
During the early stages of your daughter’s pregnancy, it will be important for her to consider her options as far as how to proceed with the baby once he or she is born. The decision to keep the baby or set the baby up for adoption can be a hard one to make. Be open to her thoughts and ideas as she looks into her varying options.
Help your daughter to know that having this child does not stop her future. Whether it be finishing high school, continuing on to college, or starting a job, your daughter has options after her pregnancy.
Biblical Wisdom on Teenage Pregnancy
The spiritual lives of both you and your daughter have been catapulted into unknown territory. Regardless of spiritual maturity or how well you think you’re handling things, don’t ignore this critical part of each other’s well-being. Take action by:
- Remembering that God is big enough to handle your doubts and questions.
- Resting in the fact that God’s love is everlasting and unconditional.
- Realizing that sometimes God’s plan may not make sense at the time.
- Don’t shy away from asking for and receiving help and hope.
- Requesting that your pastor or other mature Christians help you and your daughter grow through this situation.
The bottom line – remain calm. Don’t burn bridges by saying something today that you might regret tomorrow. More than likely, your family is facing a future none of you had planned. However, good can come from this. Live one moment at a time. When things get difficult, remember the life that is being knit-together in your daughter’s womb.
Resources for How to Deal with Teenage Pregnancy
- Focus on the Family’s free consults with trained, professional counselors (Call 1-855-771-HELP (4357) weekdays from 6:00am to 8:00pm MST.)
- Pregnancy resource centers have a wealth of information and can refer you to other parents who have “been there”.
- Church members such as pastors, youth leaders, Sunday school leaders and Bible study groups.
- An existing parent support group (or be willing to start your own!)
- Other agencies in your area working with single pregnant women.