Teen Pregnancy

What can I expect?

"I'm having a baby." Over one million teens in this country say these words each year. If you find that your teen is pregnant, you may have some very strong emotions. You will probably feel angry, disappointed, and may grieve the dreams you had for your child. It is a hard time. The important thing to know is that your teen needs you now more than ever. Your teen needs your love, support, and advice.

Most unmarried teens don't plan on getting pregnant, and they are usually scared when it happens. Many keep the news of their pregnancies secret because they fear the anger and disappointment of their parents. When a teen gets pregnant, many parents blame themselves. It does not do any good to place blame. Your teen needs to get some good advice from people he or she can trust. There are many important decisions to make.

How can I help my child?

  • Help your teen feel safe enough to discuss hopes and fears. Don't overreact. Try to stay calm and not act disgusted or angry.
  • Do not talk negatively about the boyfriend or girlfriend in front of your teen. Your child may feel the need to protect the person and shut you out.
  • Give information about the kinds of choices the teen has and the outcomes of each.
  • Help your teen accept responsibility for the decision and act on his or her decisions.

It may be helpful to have teens talk with a family counselor, someone who can help them think through all the pros and cons of each option. Counselors can help pregnant teens face the reality of parenthood, not the fantasy. Teen girls may get pregnant to hold onto a boyfriend, or to have something of their own to love. They do not think about the daily tasks of parenting such as dirty diapers, infants crying at night, and the loss of freedom. Teen boys who are going to become fathers also need advice and support. Although some boys want to be involved with their children, others feel scared and guilty. The father is legally responsible for child support in every state. That doesn't mean, however, that you should pressure your teen into an unwanted marriage. There is no one best solution.

A teen who is pregnant has 3 choices to consider. One is to place the baby for adoption. Another is to have a termination of pregnancy (also called a TOP or an abortion), and the other is to raise the child. Today there is less shame in being a teen parent. But as adults know, being a parent is a huge responsibility. It may be helpful to have teens talk with a family counselor, someone who can help them think through all the pros and cons of each choice.

Your daughter has the right to decide what she wants to do with her pregnancy. No matter what her decision, a counselor can help her through the strong emotions she will be feeling. Often, teens who become pregnant drop out of school. The teen needs to be supported to stay in school. Some schools provide a school for teen mothers, where childcare is also offered. An education or specific job training will help the teen to have a better job in the future, and able to support the child.

As hard as it may be, your teen needs your honest advice and your love.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2009-12-10
Last reviewed: 2010-06-11
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
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