For Parents

“How To Really Love Your Pregnant Teen with Wisdom, with Guidance, without Condition” – from Focus On the Family.

She’s pregnant. You’re shocked.

Here are some guidelines to help you through
this unexpected time of confusion and heartache.

“I’m pregnant” – When your daughter first breaks the news to you, you may feel:

* Shock
* Disappointment
* Despair
* Embarrassment

You may think:

* “Her life will be shattered, our lives are ruined.”
* “All of her (and our) hopes, dreams and plans are threatened!”

Perspective Check – It’s not good news. It’s also not the end of the world. Remember to:

* Stay calm.
* Avoid assigning blame or condemning.
* Focus on the positive (she could have chosen abortion).
* Show grace and mercy as Jesus would (even when it’s toughest).

Step Into Her Shoes – Understand her fears. She is probably overwhelmed:

* Feeling like she has lost your love and confidence.
* Feeling alone and needing a support group.
* Wondering what her options are.
* Facing a future she hadn’t planned.

Step Up – Be an asset to your daughter by:

* Reassuring her of your unconditional love and concern.
* Affirming your confidence in her.
* Trusting God whole-heartedly.

Simply Say It – She can’t read your mind. You need to speak the words:

* “I still love you, no matter what.”
* “I’m here for you and will help you in whatever way I can.”
* “You do have options (marriage, adoption, single-parenting, evening college courses, etc.).”
* “Some people will look down on you. Many more will extend their compassion.”
* “You are ultimately accountable to God, not other people.”
* “You have a whole lifetime ahead of you. This one mistake doesn’t need to destroy your bright future.”

Health First – Her health should be tops on your priority list. Be sure to:

* Find a compassionate and caring health care provider.
* Make sure she has proper nutritional care.
* See that she exercises appropriately.
* Be aware of hormonal changes affecting her emotional well being and adding stress to her body.
* Acknowledge her feelings of attachment (it’s a normal maternal feeling).

A Comfortable Environment – Create a nonthreatening atmosphere by:

* Being willing to listen as she talks about her feelings.
* Giving advice only when asked.
* Enabling her to make rational, thoughtful decisions.
* Respecting her privacy (allow her to ponder secret thoughts).
* Respecting her feelings about the baby’s father (whether the relationship continues or is terminated).
* Guiding the baby’s father into responsible participation.

Here are Other Ways to Help Your Pregnant Teen:

Family Matters – Lighten your daughter’s burden by offering to tell close family members about her pregnancy. They need to know because:

* It gives family an opportunity to express their genuine concern.
* Siblings, because they are closer in age, may offer her unique sympathy.
* They may have suggestions you haven’t thought of.
* You can unite as a family to be a support for her.

After sharing the news, remember:

* To respect one another’s opinions.
* You are not obligated to act on every suggestion made by others.
* Family members may strongly disagree on some decisions.
* Ultimately, it’s your daughter and the life inside of her who are affected by the decisions made by your family.

Decisions, Decisions… Your daughter faces many options.
Be her guide as she considers:

Adoption -

* How much do you and she actually know about how adoption works today?
* Would this option free her to continue the life she’d planned for herself?
* Have you considered the statistics which dramatically demonstrate the importance of a father in a child’s life?
* Help her weigh the pros and cons.

Parenting the child -

* Will she move out and raise the child on her own?
* What are the financial implications?
* What role are you willing to take in the child’s upbringing?
* Will she depend on you to help her raise the baby? Explain that, as the mother, she is the parent.
* Sort through your own feelings and only offer that which you feel comfortable.

Marriage -

* Is your daughter in love or simply trying to remedy the situation?
* Are they mature enough to bear the responsibilities of marriage and be effective parents?
* What are the long-term implications? Another mistake – divorce?
* Objectively and lovingly share your concerns. Then give her freedom to make the decision.

Abortion -

* Refuse to worry about your family’s reputation. It does not matter what other people may think when they see her pregnant.
* If she’s a Christian, faith and conviction that life begins at conception eliminates abortion as a choice for your daughter.
* Serve as a steady, rational voice when your daughter is tempted to overlook her beliefs.
* You need support too!

Don’t Deny It – You need support too! You can best help your daughter when you are strengthened and healthy. Check out the people and places ready to help:

* Austin Pregnancy Resource Center (we have a wealth of information and can refer you to other parents who have “been there”).
* Church (pastor, Sunday school and Bible Study groups).
* Youth leaders (they are in-tune with what teens are dealing with).
* Other parents who have gone through similar experiences.
* An existing parent support group (or be willing to start your own!)
* Other agencies in your area working with unmarried pregnant women.

Higher Ground – 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:

* Requesting that your pastor or other mature Christians help you and your daughter grow through this situation.
* 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 doesn’t make sense, but pain can be necessary to pave the way for healthy growth.
* Receiving the help that others offer.
* What you’re going through is not easy. There are no simple, pat answers to direct you on this unexpected journey. Though this booklet provides some guidance to help you, you may need more insight and support. Don’t hesitate to ask Agape Pregnancy Resource enter for more material.

Recommended: “Help for Hurting Parents: Dealing With the Pain of Teen Pregnancy” by Luther McIntyre.