Often, parents of teens react to a teen pregnancy with one goal in mind: Figure out what to do with the baby. Sometimes, there’s a lot of emotional stuff to deal with, like shame, frustration, and shock at their teenager’s evident sexual promiscuity. When parents choose to focus on their grandchild and their own related issues, they often overlook the needs of someone very important: their teenager.
This less-than-ideal situation can provide opportunities for guiding your child through some character-building decisions that can help her (or him—it always takes two!) grow into a mature adult.
Taking Responsibility for Their Own Actions
Whether you have a daughter who is pregnant or a son who got a girl pregnant, there are new responsibilities they need to consider. Often, parents of teen moms and dads opt to take over the situation and either point their teens to the lines they need to sign in order for an adoption to take place or choose to basically raise the baby themselves. This kind of intervention leaves the teen feeling as if they’re not the one responsible to take the steps needed. Instead, parents can guide their teens through the decisions, discussing pros and cons of the various options. But they have to get their teens to take those steps and take the responsibility that’s theirs.
Understanding Consequences of Behavior
Every choice a person makes limits his or her choices in the future and affects the lives of others. Your teen has a baby to think about, now, and there may be people that have been hurt already (including you). You cannot protect your teen from these consequences; they need to be felt so they can prompt appropriate responses and lessons for the future. A pregnancy may mean money earned through part-time jobs going toward baby clothes instead of new clothes, a car, or even college. If you allow your teen to utilize government funding and then provide free daycare for your grandchild, you won’t be teaching them that they have to pay for their own actions.
Growing Toward Mature Relationships
Perhaps your son or daughter is the only one of the baby-making pair who is taking this responsibility seriously. Or maybe the child was conceived in a more casual context than a serious romantic relationship. This is a great opportunity to talk about valuing relationships, trusting feelings, and how to avoid being pressured into risky behaviors. As you explore these important topics, you may find that your teen’s issues actually stem from shallow family relationships or other needs you didn’t even realize were there. You can take this time to help develop your own relationship with your teen, as well.