It’s not every day your teenage daughter tells you she’s pregnant. That same teenage daughter you thought was only interested in cheerleading and getting good results in school. That same teenage girl who only a few short few weeks ago told you she’s not interested in having a boyfriend.
Hearing such life-changing news can be overwhelming to hear. In this situation, if you’re not excited about this news, it’s very easy for the unhealthy emotion of anger to burst forth. In this situation you can go from calm to angry and shocked in a fraction of a second.
When that happens, rational thinking isn’t easy and you might find yourself reacting rather than responding.
Your instant reaction might be to proclaim how “stupid and irresponsible” she is, how “this is a massive mistake” and she’s “ruined her life;” let alone how you “never thought you’d do this to me!” But these words would be best unsaid at this moment. This is really not the time for blame and exclamations of your disappointment.
Remember, she’s probably scared to death to tell you she’s pregnant. She’s probably scared to death that you’ll react badly; and she’s probably told herself a million times how stupid and irresponsible she is. Then to hear you say the same things at this moment could be devastating and lead to a fractious relationship going forward.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t let your daughter know how disappointed, annoyed and scared for her you are. That’s what you think, and that’s your right. Yet that conversation might be best saved for when you are both calm and have had time to process this new information.
So what would be helpful to you both in this situation? Here are a few thoughts.
- The old adage of ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ is appropriate here. When you hear such shocking news, try not to react. Keep your mouth closed. Don’t say a word. Count to ten. Take a deep breath, and only then, when the initial wave of anger has mostly passed, talk.
- When you do talk, stay calm as possible. Even if your gut is churning and you want to scream, this situation isn’t about you, it’s about your daughter.
- Focus on trying to understanding how she’s feeling right now. Let her know that you are there for her, even if inside you’re still angry. They’ll be plenty of time to deal with your emotions later.
- Show you are there for her, by asking her to walk you through what happened and how she feels about it. This will give her the opportunity to cry, vent, and allow her fears to come out. It also gives you valuable information so you don’t start jumping to conclusions.
- Find out if the father knows and if his parents know. You may feel very angry toward him at this moment, but try not to vilify him. Making him the enemy could cause a rift that becomes impossible to reconcile.
- Help her understand that she’s very young and making quick decisions might not be the best thing right now. Young minds don’t have experience of knowing what life can be like as an adult. You have the chance to give her some honest advice, but try not to be condescending with the information.
- Don’t try to force your views on what she should do with her pregnancy. Take some time to consider all the options available to her and seek professional guidance if you can.
- If she decides to keep the baby, planning ahead is critical. The hardest part will come after the birth. If your daughter is still with the father, then what? What will the baby’s last name be? Where will they live? Can you open your home to them? Will she go back to school? Who will look after the child if she does? How will they cope financially? Managing so many decisions can become overwhelming and it can rip relationships apart; especially two young people trying suddenly to become responsible adults.
- Going from carefree teen to expectant mother can be stressful. At times your daughter might seem immature and want to do silly teenage things. Try not to use that as an excuse to vent your frustration on her suitability to be a mother.
- Both of your hopes and dreams may now be gone. Both of your futures will be different, but it doesn’t mean life will be worse. Life and people can often be surprising and you might actually find being a grandparent a great experience – even if it is sooner than you hoped.
It can be hard to accept your daughter is pregnant, let alone be happy about it. You might find yourself crying your heart out over this, and looking for reasons why you failed to stop it from happening. This is not helpful to you and that unhealthy thinking often will lead to depression.
What you have now is a real situation to deal with and being heartbroken, angry, or bitter for the whole nine months isn’t going to make it a good experience for either of you.
The reality is nobody knows the outcome of this moment. You’re both standing at a crossroads in your lives and nobody can predict what the best thing to say or do is, but your daughter will need your support. However, it’s also important that you get the support you need to help you navigate this tricky time.