I Lived Through My Daughter's Teen Pregnancy and You Can, Too
It was just a little over a year ago when I found out that my teenager daughter was pregnant. It was just before her 16th birthday and she told me she needed to go to the doctor. I immediately knew that this wasn't a casual visit and when she confirmed that her period was 10 days late it took everything within me not to completely freak out.
Today she thinks that I am just very calm. What she doesn't realize is that my silence was an indication of just how mad I was. And if you find out that your teen daughter is pregnant you will know exactly what I am talking about. It's beyond wanting to yell and scream. It is beyond wanting to lock her in her room for the rest of her life or send her away to boarding school. It is beyond anything you can imagine.
And that makes sense because she's about to go through something that is unlike anything that she could possibly ever imagine!
at least not right away
One of the first things you need to do is get your emotions under control. The fact is that this pregnancy is not going to go away and how you react can determine how well the next 9 months go.
Try to get a grip on how you are feeling first and what exactly you are dealing with. Since you're bound to have some angry feelings, don't let them loose. That will only make matters worse.
Take some time to figure out how you feel about it and how you are going to talk to her about it. She is going to need you and she is going to need a lot of support.
You're going to have first reactions but the ones that matter are the ones that will come after you've had some time to think about it. She needs to think about it, too, so give her a little space.
(with her not at her)
After you have taken some time to think and come to terms with the pregnancy it is time to sit down and talk with her. Try to make sure you are not talking at her though.
You need to realize that she has the law on her side and no matter what you feel about the teen pregnancy it will be her decision how to deal with it. You can encourage her and you can inform her but you can't make this decision for her.
Let her know what her options are. If you're not sure how to explain the pro's and con's of each option call a local parenting program, her doctor, or a family life center. They can sit down with her or with both of you to discuss what options are available to her.
She'll need an OB/GYN
If she doesn't already have an OB/GYN it is time that she had one. Usually the first appointment is around the 12th week but if she is very young the doctor might want to see her sooner. The doctor can discuss options with her as well as get her ready for what to expect.
If she has never had a physical examination before she will need to have one now. This can be a pretty scary experience the first time. Prepare her for what will happen and have the doctor explain what she can expect. You should be allowed to be in the room with her when she has her exam but if she is not comfortable with that the nurse can attend.
Get her signed up
Most cities and towns have parenting centers, family life centers, or other community resources that can be very helpful for teen moms. These resources are going to be critical for both you and her. You can't answer all of her questions so make sure the resources to find answers are at her disposal.
Where I live we have several programs. One program for young moms has a mentor come to their homes. My daughter got involved in that right away and once a week her mentor comes out and does activities with her and teaches her about raising a child. She still comes to see her, although not as often now. My daughter has learned a lot through this program.
It will also be a great resource for you because the mentor or helper will be able to help you find resources when you need them, too.
If your teenager is pregnant your whole world is going to change and so is hers. It isn't going to be easy for either of you. In the end though, you can help make it a positive experience and if she decides to keep the baby you will be the one that she looks to most often for advice and help.
I think the best piece of advice I can offer you is to get support for yourself, too. There are going to be many times when you need someone to vent to or you need advice. Build up your support team and remember that it is ok to be mad or frustrated. Just try to deal with it in a healthy way.