As a Parent, You Should be Prepared to Remain Calm and Help Your Teenage Daughter When She Tells You She’s Pregnant
If you just found out that your teenage daughter is pregnant, you’re most likely feeling many emotions, including fear, anger, worry, and frustration.
Having these emotions doesn’t make you a bad parent, and all of them are normal.
Although you never thought your daughter would be experiencing pregnancy at such a young age, you love and support her no matter what and want to figure out how to help.
In general, the following steps can help you work through what to do if your teenage daughter is pregnant:
- Let her talk to you
- Stay calm and ask non-judgmental questions
- Help her create a plan
If you want to get unbiased advice from an unplanned pregnancy counselor about what to do if your teenage daughter is pregnant, you can contact us for free today. But, if you want to gather your thoughts before continuing your conversation with your daughter or speaking to one of our specialists, continue reading.
How to Help a Pregnant Teenager
Before consulting our advice on how to help a pregnant teenager, remember that compassion and patience are essential in this situation.
Although you may feel uncomfortable talking to your child about their sex life, it’s essential to have this tough conversation to help your child through this adult situation.
Remember: You never wanted your daughter to get pregnant at such a young age, but she didn’t want this to happen either. The situation is what it is, and the healthy way forward entails loving conversations and calm planning.
How to Help a Pregnant Teenager Step 1: Let Her Talk to You
You may want to convince your daughter to speak to you about her pregnancy, but it’s best to let her start the conversation.
If your daughter is ready to talk about what happened, consider the following:
- Let her explain the situation: Although you may think you know what happened, you might not. Although most teen pregnancies result from consensual sex, some result from rape. Also, in general, it’s best not to blame your daughter for getting pregnant. Yes, she could have engaged in safer sex. But, now she’s pregnant, and this is her current reality. It’s not helpful to play the “could have, should have” game because she needs your support right now.
- Don’t interrupt: Although you may think you know the perfect thing to say right now, you most likely don’t. Let your daughter say everything she needs to before you offer any advice. You even can consider going into the conversation with a pen and paper to record all your daughter’s thoughts in real-time so you can better address her needs later. Although you’ll do a lot of talking as you both continue to navigate this situation, let her have the floor right now.
- Keep things in perspective: Your daughter is alive, healthy, and in general, OK. Sure, this isn’t the situation either of you wanted, but don’t blow things out of proportion and jeopardize the loving relationship you already have with her. Take this time to build additional trust for the new journey ahead.
If your daughter is reluctant to talk to you, you can show her you’re willing to talk by:
- Letting her know you’re here to talk when she’s ready: Gently tell your daughter you’re ready to talk when she is. Keep the conversation short and direct. Reiterate that you are not mad and want to help her by listening. You both can figure out the situation together.
- Tell her you love her: End with an “I love you.” Your daughter knows that you love her but likely needs reassurance right now because she is scared.
How to Help a Pregnant Teenager Step 2: Stay Calm and Ask Non-Judgmental Questions
After your daughter says everything she needs to say, it’s your turn to ask non-judgmental questions. Before engaging your daughter, consider the following advice:
If you’re feeling emotional after hearing what your daughter has told you, it’s OK to take a second to collect your thoughts. If you need to step away to digest everything she’s said, tell her you aren’t mad, but you need to take a few minutes to think. These types of conversations can get emotional, so it’s best to take frequent breaks if you worry you may lose your temper.
Don’t Force Her to Make a Certain Decision
Although you may want your daughter to handle her pregnancy a certain way, she may want to do the complete opposite. If your daughter needs your parental consent to move forward with her unplanned pregnancy decision, try to hear her out and support her choice.
After all, this is her body and her baby, not yours. It can be hard to let your daughter make a decision you don’t fully agree with. But, if you force her to do something she doesn’t want to do, she’s likely to push harder and try to do what she wants anyway. And if she tries to get her way without your support, she could potentially get harmed.
Ask Non-Judgmental Questions
Once you have a general idea of your daughter’s situation and know what she wants to do about her unplanned pregnancy, you can respond with helpful questions that will help you both start to make a plan.
My teenage daughter is pregnant and considering abortion:
- Do you know how far along you are in your pregnancy? If not, have you made a doctor’s appointment?
- Do you know if you need my consent to get an abortion? Do you know our state’s specific rules about abortion?
- Do you need my help finding a clinic?
- Would you like me to drive you to the clinic and stay in the waiting room during the procedure?
- Have you spoken to the baby’s father?
- Have you researched the procedure? Are you mentally prepared to have an abortion?
We understand that many people have strong feelings about abortion, but you must listen to your daughter’s needs in this situation. The last thing you want is for your daughter to try and get an abortion without your help or consent because those actions could put her in danger.
My teenage daughter is pregnant and considering parenthood:
- Will the baby’s dad be involved in the parenting?
- Do you know how you will afford to raise your child?
- What are your support needs and expectations? Do you plan on asking us to help? If so, how often and how long will you need this help?
- Do you plan on continuing your education during your pregnancy and after you deliver your baby?
- Are you comfortable continuing your pregnancy? Are you prepared to give birth? Do you want to talk to a medical professional about how to prepare?
- How do you plan to handle childcare when you attend school, go out with friends, or go to social events?
- Are you ready to change your life plans to raise a child?
If your daughter is considering parenthood, it’s important to talk about your role. You will inevitably have a big role in your grandchild’s life, and your daughter may rely on your help and parenting knowledge more than she now realizes.
That’s OK as long as you’re willing to help when that time comes. You both need to understand just how much you plan on helping your daughter so she can truly determine if she is prepared to raise her baby.
My teenage daughter is pregnant and considering adoption:
- Have you found an adoption agency to work with? Have you talked to an adoption counselor?
- Do you know how the adoption process works?
- Do you need my consent to place your baby for adoption?
- Are you comfortable continuing your pregnancy? Do you plan on continuing school during your pregnancy? Are you prepared to give birth? Do you want to talk to a medical professional about how to prepare?
- Have you considered how you will feel after the adoption is complete?
- How can we support you throughout the adoption process?
- Do you want to continue your relationship with your baby after the adoption?
Some states require a parent’s consent for adoption, but that typically is if your daughter is 13 or 14 years old. So, if your child does choose to go forward with adoption, you most likely will not be able to stop the process.
Although your daughter will have an adoption counselor who will help her through the adoption process, she will benefit from your help and support.
How to Help a Pregnant Teenager Step 3: Help Her Create a Plan
Although you should be available to help your daughter execute her unplanned pregnancy plan, it’s important to let her take ownership of her plan. Because although your daughter is still a child, she should be in 100% control of how she decides to handle her unplanned pregnancy.
Balancing your help and your daughter’s independence from now on will be delicate, but it’s possible with open communication and love. Allowing her to, for example, make her doctor appointments, or talk to her adoption counselor on her own, will enable her to take ownership of her decision.
But, you should always be open to going to appointments with her and help her as you can.
“I Think My Teenager Daughter is Pregnant, but I’m Prepared to Help”
Although accepting that your daughter is pregnant is difficult, it’s essential. Your daughter has trusted you enough to tell you her situation and most likely relies on you to help her form and execute her plan.
You and your daughter will get through this challenging time and make it to the other side of her unplanned pregnancy.
If you and your daughter could benefit from additional unplanned pregnancy resources, the following are a few trusted places to consult for each unplanned pregnancy option:
- Planned Parenthood (not just for abortion but for options counseling and prenatal care)
- National Council for Adoption
- American Adoptions
- Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
- Office of Child Care
- Local alternative schools or GED programs