Finding out that your teenager is either pregnant or has gotten someone else pregnant can send you through a conflicting range of emotions. This is understandable. You may be angry at one moment and sad or disappointed the next. It's common to feel disheartened, dumbfounded, and even depressed. However, no matter what you're feeling, your teenager is guaranteed to be equally overwhelmed. More importantly, your child needs you now more than ever before. The reproductive health of your teenager and the new baby is very important.
Teenagers Need Open and Honest Information
Keeping the lines of communication open is of the utmost importance. Although your teen will soon be a parent too, this is still an excellent parenting opportunity for you. Do your best to keep your emotions from overrunning the conversation. As much as you'd like to control the outcome of this situation, whether to keep or not keep the baby is ultimately your child's decision. As a soon-to-be parent, your teenager will increasingly be making important choices on their own as the weeks, months, and years go by. Learning how to effectively communicate with your teen now, despite what you might be feeling, will allow you to have more input and to be a sure form of help when it's required. If talking calmly about your child's pregnancy is too hard to do on your own, consider enlisting the help of a counselor or other mediator. You can also sign your son or daughter up for counseling of their own. Working with a professional will give them the benefit of an unbiased third-party opinion. Sometimes, having outside insights can make it easier for teens to make important choices.
The Teen Father Should Be Involved
If your teenage daughter is pregnant, it's important to encourage involvement on the part of the baby's father. All children fare best when they have two active and contributing parents. If your son is going to be a parent, encourage him to take responsibility, and offer your help and guidance as needed. He should be prepared to provide financial and emotional support throughout the entire pregnancy and beyond. There are many resources available for both teen parents and their families, and it's definitely a good idea to explore them all.
Teen Pregnancy and Planning for the Future
Teen pregnancies occur just as young adults are getting ready to get their own lives off the ground. With your guidance, it may be possible to minimize how disruptive this is. Encourage your teenager to remain in school so that they have a better ability to support their child in the future. Explain that getting a good education now will lead to better, higher paying jobs later on. It can also open the door to a far greater range of career opportunities. Talk to your child about how continued education can improve the life-quality of everyone in the picture.
You can also visit the school in-person to find out about any learning challenges or special opportunities that exist. Talk with counselors to establish a solid plan for your child to continue school both during and after pregnancy. Be sure to ask about in-school and community programs that offer services for teen parents such as:
- Transportation assistance
- Child care
- Financial counseling
and more. You can also look for local parenting classes so that your son or daughter can learn the basics of diapering, swaddling, and properly holding newborns among other things. Helping your child get ready for independence and encouraging them to better understand all that adulthood entails is key. With the right information and the right expectations, teens have the best ability to shoulder this new responsibility, and without overlooking essential details or becoming overwhelmed.
Involve Yourself in Prenatal Care and Medical Treatment
Remain involved in the medical treatment of your teenager. The sooner that a teen mother starts prenatal care, the more likely it is that she'll have a healthy baby. Make sure that your teen is setting up regular appointments and provide transportation to and from the doctor's office as needed.
Accept Your Role as Grandparent
Finding out that you're poised to become a grandparent can be daunting, especially when this new role must be stepped into far sooner than you expected. However, when your child's baby arrives, keep in mind that you're the grandparent and not the parent. This can be a real challenge if your teenager continues living in your home. Your job is to support your teen in learning how to parent. This is critical during the newborn phase. If you think back to your own first experiences as a parent, you'll remember that even for you, there was a necessary learning curve.
Establish a Balance Between Helping Your Teen and Helping Them Help Themselves
If you're able to, you can offer financial assistance when needed. However, it's important to encourage teen parents to work for themselves and for their own children as much as they can. Encourage your child to look for work and to start covering the costs of raising a child. This can be a definite challenge for new teen parents while they're still in school, but it sets the stage for continued responsibility going forward. Stepping out of the way to let teenagers take responsibility for their babies can also be effective for discouraging multiple pregnancies throughout the teenage years.
Talk About Reproductive Health
For obvious reasons, it's also a good time to talk with all of your children about protecting their reproductive health. You want to make sure that all minors in your home are well-prepared for dealing with and managing their own sexuality, and for avoiding unexpected pregnancies and sexually transmitted disease. Statistically, sisters of pregnant teens have a higher likelihood of becoming pregnant themselves. If you've been lax in offering in-home sex education, finding out that one of your teenagers is pregnant can be a catalyst for incredibly important discussions. Although most kids receive a comprehensive sex education in-school, it's vital to share your own insights and life lessons as well.
Seek Support for Yourself
Although you should prioritize your teen's needs and emotions over your own, you should avoid neglecting yourself in all of this. This is a high-stress and incredibly difficult situation for any parent to deal with. You'll be a far better grandparent and a much better parent if you take the time to find your own reliable support system. You can work with a counselor independently or you can join a support group for the parents of pregnant teens. Support groups will give you the benefit of camaraderie, a safe place to vent, and the opportunity to discover helpful resources. Support groups can meet up in-person or they may meet entirely online.
Finding out that your teenager is pregnant or has gotten someone else pregnant can feel like the end of the world. In reality, it's actually a new chapter in everyone's life. With your experience and guidance, you can help your child navigate this incredibly difficult time. You can also help you teenager set the stage for a healthy pregnancy, and for a sustainable and financially comfortable life after your grandchild is born.