An unplanned pregnancy at any age is surprising news. However, when you're the parent of the daughter who admits she is pregnant, or if you are the parent of a son who impregnated a girl, it can be unsettling and hard to deal with.
Whether your son or daughter is a teenager or an unmarried young adult, an unplanned pregnancy can bring the same mixed emotions. Anger, guilt, confusion, worry, and embarrassment may be initial feelings of a parent who could have sworn up and down that their child knew better than to have premarital sex without the right measurements of safety and protection (after all, the "talk" was given and you're pretty sure sex ed covered anything you didn't). Parents sometimes see their children through rose-colored glasses, strongly believing (or wishfully thinking) that their kid is a drug-free virgin who has never gotten drunk or lied to them.
The fact of the matter is that many teens and unmarried young adults are having sex and are most likely denying this to their parents. Every two years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publishes a study on sexual behavior trends in 9th through 12th grade students. According to the statistics, almost half of American high school students have had sexual intercourse. See the study for yourself: Trends in the Prevalence of Sexual Behaviors.
Kidshealth.org states that one million American girls give birth every year. You can talk to your kid until you're blue in the face, but the reality is, they're either going to take your advice or not. I am no expert, but I am experienced. As you can tell from this blog, I had an unplanned pregnancy. Although my situation may be different (I was already engaged and a college graduate with a full-time job), my parents' reactions were typical. It didn't matter to them that I was 24 and already planning on marrying the baby's father. In their eyes, I was their little baby, their only daughter and youngest child, about to have a baby herself.
It is a hard fact to swallow when your kid approaches you about an unplanned pregnancy. If this should happen to you, as difficult as it may be to comprehend, you have to give props to your son or daughter for even telling you. They want you to be involved. They want you to support them. They need your help. This would be the time to truly demonstrate your parenting skills. You might want to discuss different choices such as adoption or abortion. Especially if your child is a teenager, you might feel the need to make the decision for them, or do all you can to persuade your child to make the choice you want him or her to make.
I believe the best thing to do you for your child is to let him or her make the decision. Although you migh have raised your son or daughter to condemn abortion, he or she may have his or her own point of view. He or she may feel equally as strong about his or her opinion as you do about yours. I don't believe it is right to enforce your own beliefs when it comes to pregnancy; it could have longlasting emotional effects on a girl if she is forced into having an abortion or keeping a child she does not feel capable of raising. Pregnancy requires a great level of maturity. It's best to believe your child is mature enough to deal with the consequences of sexual intercourse if he or she was able to make the decision to engage in sex in the first place.
This is undoubtedly a sensitive subject. It's extremely important to realize that parents are NEVER at fault. In my opinion, it doesn't matter if a kid was raised with both parents, neither parent, or either one of them. What is important is that the child was taught right from wrong. If parents/guardians/whatever did their job in educating their children, that's about all they can do, and they have done their best. I think that a straight edge parent with strong religious values or a parent with a criminal history have equal chances of having a daughter who gets pregnant before she is "ready" (which in itself is subjective).
If your family is facing an unplanned pregnancy right now, or if you just want to be prepared or further educated, I think a great resource is this: When Your Teen is Having a Baby. Although it mainly talks about teens, it applies to parents of unmarried young adults as well.
There is only one word to summarize what I think parents and other family members or friends should do when a girl finds out she is pregnant: support.
More from parenting