After the shock has worn off and you have picked yourself up off of the floor, you start to dissect what your daughter just announced.
“I’m pregnant!” she says. Your first thought is the fact that she is only 15. The next few moments are frozen in time as you try to rationally think of what needs to be done and who to call.
Sadly, I have met with new moms younger than this. As a volunteer for a crisis pregnancy center years ago, I was involved in counseling young pregnant girls. All these years later, the same scenario still exists for many parents.
My first assignment was a young petite girl of 12. She shared that no matter how much the school taught about birth control, her and her boyfriend thought that it would ruin the moment and honestly didn’t think that a baby would result from it. She had thought about placing the child for adoption but her mother laid so much guilt about losing a grandchild that she decided in the long run to keep her child.
But the story doesn’t end there. You see, she got a lot of attention from her 12 year-old friends who loved her little girl so much that they would come over, dress her up and play with her like a doll that was just bought from the store. However, they weren’t around when the baby kept this new mom up all night from colic or being needy. Even so, those friends all wanted to get pregnant too because they wanted to play show and tell.
The new mom admitted after she turned 13 that it was hard raising a baby. The grandmother wasn’t as helpful in her eyes (pertaining to taking care of her baby 24/7 like she had hoped or being supportive like a parent should be) and she couldn’t go out with all her friends. Her life had changed.
Although she had changed to a degree and tried to be a good mom, her brain, not yet fully matured and making bad choices, went out and got pregnant again at the ripe old age of 13. I kid you not. It was actually quite sad. Because of not listening to sound advice or wisdom, she now had two children to raise.
She was encourage to think about her options such as an adoption or support group to help her as a new mom, but she chose neither. I truly believe that if the parents had been more pro-active not just on the whereabouts of their pre-teen but after the birth of the first child, there might have been some hope for her. The pregnancy center did meet her needs in many ways and the children I had last heard were healthy, but it would be a long and difficult journey for this young mom.
My second client was 16. To make things even more difficult for her was the fact that she was carrying twins. She wanted badly to keep them. However, her parents refused to help her and forced her to place the twins for adoption.They did not want to be reminded of the shame that their daughter placed on them. Little did they realize that their forced decision caused a bitter division that was irreparable between them and their daughter.
Years later I had happened to run into her. She carried a lot of pain and hurt and was never the same after losing her babies. She mourned for them daily. Holidays were the most difficult. She said she never forgave her parents and blame them for her miserable life.
We often assume that when the parents find out that their teen is pregnant that this was the crisis. In these two heartbreaking stories, it is obvious that the crisis didn’t end. It only continued.
In the first scenario, the parents were in denial that a situation like this would arise with their daughter to begin with. Even after the birth of this baby, the parents again were in denial of this grandchild by not being as supportive as they could have been. Instead, they left their daughter to her own demise to get support from someone else and therefore, found herself pregnant for the second time.
In the second scenario, the parents were selfish and only thought of themselves in the crisis. They were ashamed because they were church goers. And to make matters worse, the father of these twins was the pastor’s own son. Now you have two sets of parents forcing a 16 year-old girl to place her children for adoption. She never had a chance. As much as we tried to reason with these parents as well as the overwhelming pleas of this daughter, what they planned and followed through on ultimately altered this young woman’s life as well as their own.
She was a very bitter, angry, unforgiving new mother who refused to talk to her parents. I have talked to other moms-to-be who were unwed and there were a few that I absolutely encouraged adoption due to the mental state and instability of the teen. There were outright cases in which you knew that the baby would be in imminent danger if left with the mother despite all the counseling she received.
Overall, we supported these young women who chose to place for adoption or take their baby home to a very supportive and loving environment.
So, if your daughter comes home and says, “Mom, I’m pregnant,” would you know what to do or say?
Here’s a list of Do’s and Don’ts:
DO – tell her that you love her and that although you are disappointed, you will work together to figure out the next step.
DON’T – grill her 24/7 to find out the where, how, why, and then make her feel more ashamed than what she feels. It was hard enough to come to you.
DO – tell her that counseling through this pregnancy will be good for everyone involved so that the future decisions that are made will go more smoothly and have time to plan things out.
DON’T – tell her exactly how you feel. A pregnant girl is on an emotional rollercoaster and she will not be able to handle your emotions on top of hers.
DO – try to get the birthfather involved (if possible) as well as his parents. Because he helped create this precious and innocent child, he needs to be a part of the process as to the decision making. Counseling would also be encouraged for him and his family as well.
DON’T – make any decisions for her. If you do, she will regret listening to you and you will regret it if the decision turns out badly. Only help with the decisions if you are asked to participate by her.
DO – find a support group for parents of unwed mothers to be. When decisions start to be made, you as the parent will have a group of people who will help you and give you opportunities to share among your peers the things you cannot share with your teen.
DON’T – lay the grandparent guilt on your teen. It is “Not” your child and you could be laying a shaky foundation for your relationship with your daughter in the future.
DO – pray for your daughter or son in the situation for guidance, wisdom and discernment for their future decisions that they will have to make. They are scared now and will be for quite some time until they can figure everything out.
What matters most is showing your daughter or son that despite their sinful actions and now consequences, they are loved, cared about and precious still. This will be the most difficult time in their young life and they will need as much guidance and prayer in the coming months.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble.
Image courtesy of Marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net