If your son has had a sexual relationship which results in an unexpected pregnancy, he will experience many of the same emotions as his girlfriend. He may be feeling fear, guilt and uncertainty. In addition, he will feel considerable conflict and confusion over the role he should play as a teen dad. Though teen dads are not generally the main focus of a teen pregnancy, it is still important to help your son take responsibility where he can.
What’s a Teen Dad’s Commitment?
Though your son’s relationship with his girlfriend was most likely not a commitment to a baby, he now has the opportunity to step in to support her during this pregnancy. He must make a decision alongside this young woman about the level of commitment he intends to assume. Though he does not bear the biological consequences of this unplanned pregnancy, he bears the consequence of dedicating his time and efforts to help this young mother as she considers her options.
Teen Dad Options
When considering options, the hope would be to carry the child to term and possibly make an adoption plan (if becoming a teen dad is not the route, the two teenagers decide to take). Ultimately, his support can be a determining factor for the young woman keeping the baby. However, the mother of the baby has the legal right to have an abortion or carry the pregnancy to term with or without his input.
This may leave him with the impression that he has no control over the unexpected pregnancy and therefore no responsibility for it. Encourage your son and show him how to help the mother of his unborn child so the pregnancy is carried to term.
Responsibility for an Unexpected Pregnancy
Above all, your son will need encouragement and guidance to assume the appropriate level of responsibility for his role in the pregnancy. He should not abandon his girlfriend with a cavalier, hit-and-run attitude. These phrases are commonly associated with teen dads when it comes to the assumed responsibility:
- “It’s her problem now.”
- “She should have protected herself.”
- “She should just get an abortion.”
These responses are shallow and disrespectful responses to a serious circumstance. Remind your son of his responsibility in this situation and to be prepared to help this young mother.
Choices for Your Son
The unexpected pregnancy in your son’s life leads to many different paths. The bottom line is, your son has options. Though this is not what anyone expected, the Lord has many things in store for your teenager and your family.
For some teen parents, marriage is the best course of action after the discovery of an unexpected pregnancy. Teenage matrimony carries its own demands alongside the birth of a new baby. The conversation about marriage should include both teens and their families to decide if this is the best route.
Making an adoption plan alongside the young mother is a choice your son can make. He can help take on some responsibility by attending meetings and counseling sessions. Your son can meet with possible adoptive families. He can help decide whether the adoption should be open or closed. In doing so, this gives him more agency and responsibility over the situation at hand.
Whether he attends all of the necessary appointments, meetings with potential adoptive parents, or decides to fully commit to marriage with this young woman, stay in communication with your son. Taking responsibility is the noble thing to do, but since he is still a teenager he will have many thoughts to talk through with you as his parents.
In a best-case scenario, the families of both teenagers will cooperate to find a productive balance among several tasks: facing the consequences of the sexual relationship, accountability of adolescents to the adults in both families, short-and long-term planning, and mature decision-making for the future of the baby.
Conversations with the Family
Encourage your son to take responsibility to talk to the girl’s family. Prepare him to accept with humility their response, whether it is measured or angry. All of you may have to face the possibility that the other family will choose to deal with the pregnancy on their own, even if you are willing to participate in the process.
Should the family and young mother decide to take the route of abortion, your son may feel grief for the life of his unborn child. If this is the case, surround your son with love as he navigates this pain. As his parents, you may consider taking him to counseling to help with the different feelings he may face.
If that decision includes forbidding your son to have further contact with someone about whom he cares very deeply, he will have to find the strength to abide by the other family’s wishes. If he can continue their relationship and support her when the going gets tough, clear ground rules will need to be established and respected. No matter the case, counseling could be a vital way to help your son during this transitional season.
Final Thoughts for Teen Dads
Having a pregnant girlfriend is tough. Being a teenage dad is difficult. It can be an opportunity for your son to mature in his character and to lean into the strength of the Lord. In the long run, the pregnant adolescent girl isn’t the only one who has to make important choices. As your son embarks on this journey, support him through the many trials he will face.