When parents discover that their teenage daughter is pregnant, it can open the door to a range of emotions, from frustration and fear to excitement. It’s difficult for parents, who already know the challenges of being a mother or a father, to put their own feelings aside and be there to offer emotional support for expecting teen girls. Now, more than ever, a pregnant teenage girl needs to rely on her parents and benefit from the guidance and wisdom that they can offer her in this tough time.
What Emotional Support Do Pregnant Teen Girls Need?
Teen girls who are expecting need a different kind of emotional support than a typical teenager. Because they are suddenly thrust into the adult world and shouldering responsibilities often beyond their understanding, pregnant teenagers really need a steady and calm support system to balance out the wide range of emotions they feel. From anger and shock, to indifference and even denial, pregnant teen girls deal with this life-changing news in different ways.
Pregnant teenage girls also desperately need to know that they are still loved and appreciated. They are often their own harshest judges and are fully expecting their parents and their boyfriends to get angry, cast blame, and otherwise punish them physically and emotionally. Not only do teenage girls have to handle their own emotional state, but they feel like they are responsible for everyone else’s, too. Parents who are supportive, calm and help their teenage daughters face the ups and downs of the situation will emerge stronger than ever with an intact relationship.
What Should Parents Do?
Many parents wonder what they can do to be emotionally supportive for their teen daughters once they are told about the pregnancy. While they may feel like yelling and screaming on the inside, such a reaction will only drive their daughter away from them emotionally and lower her self-esteem even more. Instead, here are 5 things parents can do to show their expecting teenage daughter that they support her in every way:
1. Listen to Her
Pregnant teenage girls usually have kept their condition a secret for a few weeks or months, and she has built up a lot of emotion. Parents can be a good sounding board as she vents her fears and her excitement about the pregnancy.
2. Control Anger at the Father
Many parents save their anger and bad feelings for the father of the baby, but that won’t help their teenage daughter get the support she needs. Parents need to remember that it took two people to create the new life, and that it’s not the time to blame, vilify or shun the other person.
3. Provide Resources
Most teenagers don’t know the first thing about prenatal care and what kinds or resources are available, from counseling and academic advice to medical visits. Parents should help their daughter get in touch with all the resources out there so she can start getting professional help, regardless of what path she decides to take.
4. Avoid Force
Many parents have strong feelings about what path their daughter should take with regards to the pregnancy, and they range from termination to adoption to raising a child. Their daughter and the father need to make the decision on their own while receiving counsel from parents and professionals. It is not appropriate to force teens to do only what the parents want. Instead, it should be a group decision with the expectant parents as the final say.
5. Accept the Situation
No matter what happens, the new reality is that the teenager is pregnant, so parents must accept the situation and move forward. Creating a united team dedicated to finding the best solution for everyone should be the goal, not letting the teenage girl sink into despair or depression or make unwise decisions about her future. Parents can support their teenage daughters by accepting the challenge in front of them and making the best decision.
Many parents find it difficult to be emotionally supportive of their pregnant teenage daughters, but with their own feelings put aside, they can focus on the health and wellness of their frightened and overwhelmed child. The best outcome is one where parents and teenage daughters are working together and supporting each other to reach the best outcome for everyone involved.