My teenager is pregnant: How do I respond?

If you are saying to yourself, “My teenager is pregnant, and I can’t deal with this,” don’t lose hope. With these five steps, you can chart a course that will help you and your teen deal effectively with her situation and move forward so that she can achieve her goals in life.

Take steps to understand your feelings

You are likely to pass through different stages of grief, such as a denial and anger, in response to the situation. You may feel guilty about your daughter’s pregnancy and blame yourself in thinking that you are not a good parent. Or you might be preoccupied about how others will think about you and your family. Talk to other parents who have been through similar situations, or see a professional counselor to gain insights on your feelings and the situation. As you take steps to understand your own feelings about your teenager’s pregnancy, acceptance will come.

Encourage open communication

You might find it difficult to communicate with your pregnant teenager. But be careful to keep the communication channels open.Talk to your teen, and show her that you are emotionally supportive, and available to listen to her. This will help you actively build trust and re-etablish bonds with your daughter. Show acceptance as you allow her to express her feelings about her pregnancy. Above all, communicate your love and support for her at this time.

Focus on your teen’s well being

An unplanned pregnancy is a difficult time for any teenager. She might be experiencing fear of the unknown or feelings of shame and have deep concern about what you and others are thinking about her. While she needs to take personal responsibility for her own actions, take time to reassure her that you want the best for her.

Importantly, find medical care for your daughter as early as possible. Understand that there are many health risks for teenage mothers; for example, they are more likely to have premature births than are older women. So seek early prenatal care for your daughter quickly, and discuss the different options available.

Provide support for your teen

Although you have big dreams of your teen, you can’t control her life, so love her as she is. Having taken the time to understand and deal with your own emotions, you can now offer her the emotional support she needs. Affirm her positive traits and talents, and build her positive self-image. Offer your daughter unconditional love; start by telling her you love her.

Make plans for the future

Having a baby will drastically change your daughter’s life. It is important that you discuss the likely difficulties with your teen and help her plan for her future. Encourage her to stay in school and continue her education. Some schools offer teenage pregnancy programs, so speak with the school counselor about a program that allows your daughter to remain in school while she is pregnant.

Taking these positive steps to deal with your pregnant teenager will help you to be more optimistic and say, “Yes, my teenager is pregnant, but we’ve both learned some lessons, and she’ll be fine.”

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