But the fact is, your teen must now face up to the consequences of their actions, and you are going to play a big role in whatever happens next.
What is the best way to react? What kind of support should you be offering? What are your teenâ??s options? These are the kinds of questions you will want answered.
What to do when they first tell you?
It is normal for parents to â??explodeâ?? when faced with a teenage pregnancy. However, anger about your teenâ??s behaviour is just a small part of this reaction. The true core of the feeling is fear for your child and their future that may be much altered. This is expressed in anger.
Remember that your teen is probably even more scared than you are. They have taken a great leap of faith in telling you about the pregnancy, and have turned to you for help in a situation in which they feel completely overwhelmed.
Your teen is about to get judged by everyone they know, as well as themselves. It will not help to have you judge them too. What they need is support.
Your feelings of anger and fear are not to be belittled though, they are just as important. Try to work through your feelings with a close friend, partner or therapist rather than further burdening your child.
How can you support your pregnant teen?
Teenage years are already a very difficult time in anyoneâ??s life. When a pregnancy is added to all the stressors already present at this stage of development, there is a high risk that a teen may not be able to cope.
These years set the building blocks for a personâ??s future and setbacks could prevent them from achieving their full potential.
Emotional support is crucial
While society has come a long way, there is still a major stigma around teenage pregnancy. Your teen will face criticism and a lot of self-doubt which can be combatted with emotional support from friends and family.
As a non-earning member of the family, your teen will require financial support. Particularly if they choose to finish school before they get a job.
Proper medical care and nutritional support are very important to maintain the teenâ??s and babyâ??s health.
Should you discuss all the options (adoption, foster care and abortion) with them?
Whatever your teen decides, it is a decision that cannot be undone. It is something that will affect their entire life as well as their family and support systems. Deciding what to do with a teen pregnancy should not be taken lightly or rushed.
Knowledge is key. You and your teen need to approach professionals and discuss all the options available â?? do not just rely on the opinions of friends and family.
Go to your GP/local hospital and discuss what abortion is and what the procedure entails. Visit adoption agencies, and speak to family members who will play a role in supporting the teen if they choose to keep the child.
Once you have all the information you need, you and your teen can make an informed decision. It is recommended that you make this decision with the assistance of a social worker or therapist.
A therapist can mediate the different options without bias and get all parties to consider opinions that are alternative to their views. They are also trained to contain the emotions that will inevitably come out with such a high-consequence decision.
Dropping out of school?
It is important for a your teen to finish school. This will ensure that they have the opportunity to provide a better, and more stable income in the future.
You play an important role in encouraging your teen to complete their schooling. You will also have a role to play in providing the financial support the teen needs to stay in school. It is impossible to raise a child and go to school when there is no money for food or nappies.
How much should a parent step in to help?
It is very important that a teen still develops socially and has the time to relax and recharge. A happy parent is a good parent and one who has the energy to provide for their childâ??s needs.
However, it must be made clear that if the teen chooses to keep the child, it remains their responsibility.
Your assistance as the parent of the teen must come with boundaries to prevent frustration and resentment. If you offer to help look after the child, you need to agree on a set amount of time that you are willing to do this. If you are providing financial support, what are you willing to pay for and what wonâ??t you pay for?
If your teen is in school, responsibilities may change depending on the time of year. During exam time you may want to help out more to give your teen more time to focus on their studies. During holiday time, you may want to take a step back as your teen has more free time to look after and bond with their child.
Dealing with the consequences
Whatever decision is made it will not be an easy one. Any decision will take an emotional toll on your teen as well as the rest of the family.
Make the decision together, but include a social worker or therapist if possible.
A trained therapist will help you all deal with the emotional consequences of an abortion, or to put a concrete plan together of how to support the teen if they choose to have the child. It is important that, whatever decision is made, it is properly dealt with and resolved.