The words “we need to talk” usually summon a feeling of fear that makes the brain momentarily go haywire. We fill in the blanks with extremities and hope our anxiety will subside once our fears are proven irrational. Sometimes, however, we are met with some shocking news that leave us so emotionally provoked that we find ourselves in a reactive mode rather than a responsive one. If your teen tells you they are having a baby, pause. Taking a moment to soak it up before saying anything. Impulsively reacting in response to feeling anger or disappointment can devastate your relationship with your kid. Instead it is best to find ways to support a pregnant teen that may make matters better.
How to Support a Pregnant Teen
While your feelings are valid if you are ready to erupt from anger, verbally berate, or to wail in frustration, these reactions can be painful to receive, especially in such a vulnerable moment. Finding your cool amidst worry, sadness, and outrage can help you and your teen navigate this new reality.
If you or your child are triggered by this news, take a step back and say you need to leave a conversation. It is okay to ask for space and to give your teen space when emotions are heightened. Having moments to stop, breathe, acknowledge emotions, process, and reflect are important to stay grounded and re-approach a tough topic.
Talk About It
While the alone time is necessary for cultivating awareness around emotions and behaviors, you will need to talk about the pregnancy. Figure out what the best situation is to have an effective first conversation. Ask each other if it is best to have a one and one, an open conversation with the family, or to have a mediator present. Make an agreement to allow each person to talk about their feelings without interruptions. It is likely that your teen is terrified and disappointed, among other things. A compassionate talk can be healing for both you and them.
Pencil It In
Schedule in a time for you and your child to talk, review logistics, meet with their partner’s parents, and any outing that is baby-related. Scheduling gives you and your teen the opportunity to feel prepared to approach such a heavy matter. Plus, this lets your child know you are on their team because you are not throwing curveballs at them.
Although you or your teen’s partner’s parents may feel resentment toward one another, developing a relationship can be beneficial. If your teen decides to keep the baby, putting the effort to get to know each other and involving one another in the planning can minimize conflicts that arise with clashing values, beliefs, or parenting style. Plus, your teen and their baby will have a greater support system too.
You may have been overwhelmed and unprepared when you first learned you were having a child. Well, your teen is probably feeling that way too. A way to help is to learn together. Read books and watch videos about parenting and different parenting styles together. Then, discuss what style resonates most with them. Once you have an idea of how they want to approach their parenting, you can go more in-depth with workshops and regularly scheduled classes.
Your teen needs to keep their body and mind healthy to keep their baby healthy. And, in order for you to show up for your kid, you have to stay healthy too. Make staying healthy a fun bonding experience. Commit to cooking and eating healthy meals together, exercising together, and meditating together. If either you or your teen has a smoking, alcohol, or substance use issue, find a recovery center that will help with quitting the habit.
Learning about teen pregnancy is never easy. You may have had different hopes for your child’s future and they may feel crushed by their new course of direction. Despite your best efforts to support a pregnant teen, there can still be residual bitterness or disagreements. Joining family therapy will help each person freely express themselves while a mediator is present to deconstruct and interpret communication that a family member may not fully understand on their own. Additionally, to support a pregnant teen, you can enroll them in teen group counseling with others expecting a baby to get more support.
For more information on teen group therapy, call Insight Treatment at (888) 295-9995.