If you’ve just discovered that your daughter is experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, you might be unsure what to say or do. How can you help her in the best way possible? You don’t want to tell her what to do about her pregnancy, but you want to offer the support she needs now.
Offering your understanding without judgment will be the best way to help her. Often, situations like these are challenging. You can always contact Lifetime Adoption at 1-800-923-6784 to speak with an Adoption Coordinator and to learn more about how to help her. Until then, continue reading this guide for practical tips.
My Daughter Is Pregnant!
If you’ve ever thought, “Could my daughter be pregnant?”, you probably feel various emotions, including panic, anger, and disappointment.
Before you say anything you might regret later, consider that your daughter likely feels the same emotions. She will be looking for your support and understanding, not a lecture.
Your daughter is already in a vulnerable situation. Whether or not she has decided which pregnancy option is right for her, it’s your job as her parent to support her in any way you can. She has been mature enough to get herself into this situation. You can help her to see that she is mature enough to face the consequences of her decision, too.
Tips for Parents
It’s easy to beat yourself up for what you see as failing your child. Or maybe you see this pregnancy as your child failing you. But brooding over what could or should have been isn’t helpful. You will need to be there for your pregnant daughter, whatever choice she makes.
In this article, you’ll find advice for parents like you. You’ll get resources for talking with your child and supporting them through whatever choice they make. Here are a few tips for parents in this kind of situation:
Let her speak first
Your daughter has likely been preparing for this conversation for a while and may have certain things she wants to say to you. Give her that chance to explain.
Avoid interrupting your daughter while she explains her situation and her choice, and avoid becoming overly emotional. An unplanned pregnancy isn’t the end of the world; your child is still alive and healthy but has just made a bad decision. Think about how she is feeling and be empathetic.
In most cases, pregnancies result from consensual sex, but, in case hers did not, automatically shaming her for her pregnancy in the case of an assault is the last thing you want to do. Make sure to listen to her and determine if there are any safety concerns to worry about. While she explains her story and decision, try to reserve judgment and remain calm.
Don’t force her into a decision
After she has explained herself, do not jump straight to judgment or tell her exactly what to do. Remember that this is her choice, not yours. Take a deep breath and reassure her of your love and support. Ask her what she plans to do next.
It’s natural to want the best for your daughter, and as her parent, you may think you know what that is. However, your daughter is the only one who can make the best decision for herself. Try to be as open and honest as possible about her pregnancy options.
You are not responsible for her decision, so set boundaries. Make it clear now what kind of financial, practical, or emotional support she can expect from you if she chooses parenting, abortion, or adoption.
While parents are not responsible for the pregnancy, it’s unfortunately common for parents of mothers in their teens and even twenties to take on more responsibility than initially planned when their child decided to parent.
Therefore, you must clarify what type of support you can offer your daughter and for how long. Explain the realities of raising a child to her and what she might expect in the future.
Pregnancy and childbirth costs can be high, even with good health insurance. Raising a child to age 17 was recently estimated to be $233,610 for food, shelter, and other necessities!
She cannot live the same life she has grown used to; help her understand the sacrifices she will need to make as a parent.
Stay calm, and ask non-judgmental questions
It’s normal to feel all kinds of emotions when your daughter tells you she is pregnant. She is probably just as scared and confused as you, so your calm support will be invaluable to her.
If she is hoping to parent her baby, asking her these questions can help her see what to expect:
- How will you afford the costs of raising a child?
- Will your baby’s father be involved in the parenting?
- How do you expect us to help with your pregnancy and parenting?
- How will you keep going to school during your pregnancy and after delivery?
- What is your childcare plan after you return to work or school?
- What is your plan for childcare when you want to hang out with friends?
- Have you thought about how your life will need to change while raising a child?
On the other hand, if she’s considering abortion, you might ask:
- Have you spoken to your baby’s father about your decision?
- Do you know how far along you are?
- Do you understand the abortion laws in our state?
- Have you heard about the medical and emotional risks of having an abortion?
- Do you need my parental consent for this process?
Avoid enabling her
If your daughter moves back home, you may also be providing room and board. One of the most important things parents can do beforehand is to evaluate what they want from the arrangement. Avoid the urge to immediately prepare your daughter’s old room and fill the fridge with food.
Instead, think about charging her rent at a reduced rate. How much? Enough to reduce the amount of struggle, but not all of it. If you are housing your daughter for a reduced rate, and she’s spending a lot on frivolous things and hobbies, you’re enabling her and not allowing her to be an adult.
“One of the decisions my husband and I made was to provide support but not give any financial hand-outs,” explains Melissa, whose daughter got pregnant unexpectedly at 22. “As a parent, it is hard to see your child struggle, which can lead to overindulgence. We sat down with her and explained the cost of her phone and car insurance, then let her know that these were costs for which she was now responsible.”
Support her in her plan moving forward
Once your daughter has made a decision, really think about what support you can realistically give as she moves forward, especially if she makes a choice you disagree with. Reach out to a pregnancy counselor together to create a plan for her unwanted pregnancy.
More than anything, the best thing you can do for your pregnant daughter is to be there without judgment and without disappointment.
Is adoption right for my daughter?
As shocking as your daughter’s pregnancy might be, it’s not the end of the world. She’s still alive and safe, and this circumstance can change her life forever — sometimes even for the better.
If your daughter isn’t ready to become a parent, adoption could be a way to give her child the life she wants for them. With open adoption, she can maintain a relationship with her child as they grow up. She could give the gift of parenthood to a couple who desperately want a child.
To learn more about how adoption can be an option for your daughter, please call or text 1-800-923-6784 today.
As Vice President of Lifetime Adoption, Heather Featherston holds an MBA and is passionate about working with those facing adoption, pregnancy, and parenting issues. Heather has conducted training for birth parent advocates, spoken to professional groups, and has appeared on television and radio to discuss the multiple aspects of adoption. She has provided one-on-one support to women and hopeful adoptive parents working through adoption decisions.
Since 2002, she has been helping pregnant women and others in crisis to learn more about adoption. Heather also trains and speaks nationwide to pregnancy clinics to effectively meet the needs of women who want to explore adoption for their child. Today, she continues to address the concerns women have about adoption and supports the needs of women who choose adoption for their child.
As a published author of the book Called to Adoption, Featherston loves to see God’s hand at work every day as she helps children and families come together through adoption.