Aaahhh…parenting…the ultimate roller coaster ride! You will experience joy, sadness, heartache, frustration, laughter, pride, misery, fear, excitement, unbelievable love, fear, forgiveness; the peaks and lows are endless. For this particular blog, however, let’s talk about when you have a bomb dropped in your lap! Your loving teenage daughter, who is still probably only five yrs. old in your eyes now tells you that she is pregnant. That would be considered one of those full circle loops in the roller coaster!
First let’s just say that if you had absolutely no idea or warning signs that this was even a possibility, you are probably in shock. Keep that in mind before hurtful words come flying out of your mouth. Words have lasting impacts, especially harsh ones coming from your own parents, so tread lightly until you are once again of sound mind. Remember, this was probably a terrifying experience for her to tell you so she’s probably in the same condition that you are. The last thing you want to do is go off in a rage about how she’s “ruined her life”, “how could she do this to you” or how “stupid she is”; this is not the time for blame and anger. You are certainly entitled to your emotions, however this first conversation might not be the best time to put a voice to them.
Talk to her and try to find out about the situation before you make rash judgements. Let her talk, she’s probably been holding this in for as long as possible and letting her talk not only gives you information, but gives you time to calm yourself. Find out about the father and if his parents know. Ask about her health and what she has been experiencing; your main concern should still be for her physical well-being. Listen to where she is at mentally. This could be a wonderful time in her life or a terrifying one. Let her process the first step of telling you. She needs to know that you are there to support her (not necessarily all of her decisions), but that you still love her no matter what. Whatever the situation at hand you want work through this together.
After that initial conversation, you will have many more open exchanges about her pregnancy. Without overwhelming her, you will gently have to make her aware of the responsibilities of having a child. She will have to decide if she is staying with the father, and if so, where will they live and what their source of income will be. If you decide to have them move in with you, you need to be prepared because there will be many obstacles to overcome. She will have to make decisions about her education and the rigorous demands of raising a child. Still being a teenager, she probably will not fully comprehend the responsibilities of all this, but it will be your job as her parent to help her grasp the realities of her situation.
Whatever you do, make sure that your do not push your agenda on her or try to force her to handle the situation the way you want her to. If you force her to handle this pregnancy your own way, even if you feel that it’s the right thing, you will risk the chance of her resentment towards you and losing her. Regardless of how hurt and angry you might be, we can all agree that you do not want to lose your daughter over this situation. If you cannot handle your bitterness, anger and resentment over this situation, it will only create more complications and you will already have enough to deal with. You will not only have to deal with becoming an unexpected grandmother, but also grieve all the lost dreams that you may have had for your child. Remember, these are your issues to work through so make sure that you are able to distinguish between her ‘stuff’ and your own ‘stuff’. If you are struggling with this, seek help!
Whatever happens, it’s a journey for the both of you. As they say ‘life happens’ and sometimes it’s just a big emotional roller coaster ride so grab your daughter’s hand and scream when you have to because it will be both scary and exhilarating at the same time. Hang on, it’s a wild ride!
By Dawn Varela
Read more at AboutTheChildren.org