Telling your parents about your pregnancy may be nerve-wracking. Here are some suggestions from a psychologist on how to handle the talk.
Making decisions about pregnancy can be stressful enough, regardless of age. Breaking the news to your mom, dad, or caregiver might worry you even more, especially as a teen.
Take a deep breath. You can do this. Here’s some help for you to get a handle on how to navigate the conversation.
There’s no “best time” to break the news to your parents that you’re pregnant other than when you are ready.
For example, if the pregnancy was unplanned, you or your partner may first need time to process it before telling anyone.
However, keep in mind there are a few legalities to consider that may make telling your parents sooner than later necessary, like if you want an abortion.
If you decide you want to end the pregnancy, you may live in a state where you need parental consent to have an abortion.
In the United States, 38 states require a caregiver to be involved in the decision to terminate a pregnancy. Depending on the state, the time frame for an abortion can be anywhere from no later than 6 weeks to no later than 6 months.
Breaking the news may be a difficult conversation, but you can get through it.
Process where you’re at with the pregnancy first
Before telling your parents, Dr. Jennifer Crall, a clinical psychologist in Quakertown, Pennsylvania, suggests you “process through where [you] are with the pregnancy.”
This can help you identify your feelings and your wants, and prepare you for whatever happens next.
Seek other support if needed
If you don’t have the best relationship with your parents, you might want to seek support from an adult you do have a good relationship with first. Perhaps it’s an extended family member, school counselor, or mentor.
Tell your parents in person if possible
While texting them the news can seem tempting, sitting down to have a face-to-face conversation in a safe space can maintain clarity, so nothing is left to be misconstrued (especially with autocorrecting in text messages).
Remember that no matter how your parents react, you’re not alone
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Your parents’ number one job is to keep you safe, thriving, and healthy from your birth to adulthood. But they may need time to digest and gather their own thoughts about your pregnancy.
It’s important to sit with their emotions as much as you need them to make way for yours as well.
Teens have come before you and lived flourishing lives no matter which decision they chose about pregnancy, and teens will come after you as well.
Be ready to give them time and space to process their reactions
According to Crall, it can be so difficult to share the news “because parents may have such a range of reactions.”
Telling them may surprise them, too, even if they know or suspect you are sexually active.
Their first reaction may not be what you (or your partner) really need to hear. You may need to give them some time to process the news and respond to it, rather than react to it.
How do I tell my parents I got someone pregnant?
First, take a deep breath. You can do this.
Before you talk with your parents, talk with your partner about next steps. Once you have a plan together, you can talk with your parents alone or with your partner present.
Whatever you and your partner decide to do, telling your parents sooner can allow them to offer you both support.
If you’re at a loss for what to do or where to start looking, you can check out the following resources.
Adoption agencies often give you a choice about how you want to proceed. Choices typically include:
- Open adoption. You can stay in touch with the adoptive parents and be informed of how your baby is doing.
- Semi-open adoption. You can interact with the adoptive family without providing identifying information to either party.
- Closed adoption. Your information is kept confidential. You will not have contact with the baby or adoptive family.
When choosing an adoption agency, feel empowered to pick one that will respect your desires, listen to your needs, and help answer any questions you may have.
Some possible options include:
No matter your reason, if you feel abortion is your best option, you’re not alone in your decision. According to 2013 data, about 24% of teen pregnancies ended in abortion.
If you’re considering abortion, Planned Parenthood has an online tool you can use to find a local clinic.
Laws do vary by state. Keep in mind you may still need parental involvement to get an abortion. You can read this abortion access guide for more information.
If you’re planning to carry the pregnancy to term, you will need prenatal care, including doctor visits and ultrasounds. Ultrasounds are a routine part of any pregnancy that allows doctors to check on the progress of your baby’s growth as well as look for any abnormalities.
If you’re comfortable with your current gynecologist or another doctor, you can ask them about where to schedule routine care during your pregnancy.
You can also look for mobile ultrasound services or clinics that offer free or reduced-cost care.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (aka the WIC program) offers grocery assistance and education for pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum adults, babies, and kids.
The WIC program also provides referrals to healthcare and other support services.
Local support groups can also be a great resource. The Child Welfare Information Gateway has information for teen parents to help connect you to a support group.
If you carry the pregnancy to term and need assistance, you may want to consider reaching out to the National Parent Helpline at 855-427-2736, or use their online tool to find support options based on your needs.
No matter how it goes talking with your parents or your partner’s parents, or what you plan to do, you might want to consider talking with an OB-GYN. They can help get you started on the right path for you, and provide care throughout whichever option you choose.
You or your partner may benefit from talking with a therapist or counselor to help you understand, accept, and release your feelings. You can find a therapist here.