Teenage Pregnancy and Coping With it
A mother’s hopes and dreams for her teenage daughter may be dashed to pieces when she becomes pregnant before completing high school. Many mothers work hard and make many sacrifices to give their children a good life. You do your best to make sure she stays in school and you cannot wait for the day when she graduates from college. The last thing you expect is for her to drop out of school to have a baby. Pregnancy was not part of the plans you had for her, this was not supposed to happen. You might experience a number of emotions ranging from anger, disappointment, a sense of frustration and the feeling that you have somehow failed.
No doubt, you are going to ask, “How could you let this happen?” The truth is more than likely she did not deliberately set out to get pregnant. She was perhaps just experimenting with sex not giving a thought to pregnancy. It could even be just a one-time experience and she got pregnant.
The initial reaction is to be angry you may think your daughter is careless and has no ambition. She may have been careless but because she has made a blunder does not mean she has no ambition. You are going to voice your disappointment, that is understandable but it is not going to help the situation. Go ahead and voice your displeasure, tell her how you feel, but when you are done the next step is deal with the situation. Just like any other problem you encounter in life, you have to find a way to deal with it. This is the point in her life when your daughter needs you more than ever; do not turn your back on her.
Some parents get so angry about their teen getting pregnant that they will ask her to immediately leave the home and go to whoever got her pregnant. It is okay to feel angry and frustrated but putting your daughter out of the house is not the answer. In fact, this might only serve to lessen any chance of the teenager been able to pick up the pieces and go back to school and later, college. It could also create an environment where she might go on to have more children.
Take the story of Melissa, she was fourteen years old when she became pregnant, her parents were so angry that they asked her to leave the house. Having nowhere to go, she went to live with her child’s father but soon after the baby was born his abusive behavior forced her to leave him. She was grateful to the other guy who took her in. One year later, she was once again pregnant and as if her troubles were not already enough before the baby was even born, he left her.
Caught up in a situation with no job, no one to help her and two children to care for she found herself falling into the arms of yet another guy who professed to love her and promised that he would take care of her and the children. However, it was only a matter of time before he went back on his words. Once more with one more child, she was again on her own.
At the age of twenty instead of accomplishing some form of career, she was living in a run-down tenement, occupying one room with three hungry children to care for, often relying on the kindness of the other tenants to survive. At times, she would curse her fate and vow never to let another man near her. In harsh economic times promises like that may be hard to keep, because it is hard for a mother to sit by and watch her children go hungry; when another man comes along promising to help the chances are that she might fall for it. Times are tough and one cannot be too judgmental.
This situation might have turned out differently had the parents taken a different approach. Instead of turning her out of the home, they could have been supportive. Everyone makes mistake any everyone deserves a second chance. They could have let her remain in the home and have the baby. The child could have gone to daycare if there was no one at home to take care of him or her. This would have allowed the mother to go back to school. If they family could not afford daycare, finding a foster home would have been another option. Some people might say why not give the child up for adoption and that too could be an option. However, foster care may be more suitable than adoption. Foster care allows the teenager to be in touch with her child; in adoption, she might never get to see her child again.
Adoption means the mother is permanently giving up rights to her child. The teenage mother is at a point in her development where she is not emotionally or mentally mature enough to make this kind of decision. She may feel that she is been forced to give her child away. This might bring about resentment towards her parents although she knows they are only trying to help. Stronger than the resentment could be the feeling of guilt. She may experience feelings of guilt about giving the child up for adoption because of her inability to care for him or her.
Most women have very strong maternal feelings towards their babies once they are born. Believing that your daughter is too young to be a mother does not mean she cannot have very strong maternal instincts towards her child. A mother’s instinct is usually to care for her young one so when the child is in an environment such as a foster home where she is able to take an active part in the child’s life it will be easier to deal with rather than to deal with the feeling that she has somehow abandoned her child. If she is satisfied with the care her child is been given there might come a time when she might feel comfortable enough to allow the foster parents to adopt.
Parents deal with pregnancy in different ways. Some the moment they find out will opt for abortion. Not everyone agrees on abortion. In some countries, abortions are illegal except in situations where the mother’s life may be threatened. The rights and wrongs of abortion is still been debated.
Abortion may seem like an easy solution to your daughter’s predicament but unless the pregnancy is going to endanger the life of the teenager, I do not think that should be an option. It may seem like a quick fix, but it can also have repercussions. There are cases where even mature women after having abortions spend years dealing with the guilt of having done so. This kind of guilt might be hard for the teen to deal with and she might go about dealing with it in the wrong way.
You may have difficulty understanding why soon after the termination of a pregnancy your daughter gets pregnant again. You may think your daughter is just been rebellious; this might not necessarily be the case. It could be more of a coping mechanism, her way of trying to deal with the guilt of having aborted a child in the first place. By having another child to replace the one she has lost might somehow ease the guilt. Although there might be a quick fix to the initial problem, that of the pregnancy there is no quick fix for the emotional trauma an abortion might leave.
In any case, a quick fix to the problem is not necessarily the best answer because your daughter might continue to live a careless life-style knowing that if she gets in trouble you are going to take care of it. Letting her have the baby might teach her responsibility. It will make her understand that taking care of a baby is not an easy job; it is a lot of hard work and sleepless nights. This may serve as a deterrent for another pregnancy.
The best way to deal with these problems is to try to prevent them from happening in the first place. Okay so you are going to ask, “How can I prevent my daughter from getting pregnant?”
The truth is that you cannot, but by having continuous dialogue with your daughter, you may be able to get her to focus on the things that are important, such as getting an education and a career. As your daughter enters her teenage years, you have to prepare yourself for the moment when she will want to start dating. Strictly forbidding her to have a boyfriend will in no way guarantee her not getting pregnant because might get involved with someone keep the relationship a secret and still end up getting pregnant.
If your sixteen year old [I say sixteen but I know many teens start dating before that age] says “Mom I want to start dating.” Do not be close-minded and brush it aside. She came to you; that is a good start. Try to create an atmosphere of trust between you and your daughter. When your daughter starts dating try to get to know the person she is dating.
It is important to talk to your daughter about not getting involved in a sexual relationship at an early age point out to her some of the disadvantages. Encourage her to make her education her first priority. Let her know that sex can wait and that not having sex is not an opportunity lost but getting pregnant could very well bring about a set back for her.
You need to make it clear to her that by allowing her to date does not mean you are giving her permission to have sex. Let her know that you trust her to stay focus in school and not let her relationship take presidency over her education. Tell her not to allow anyone to pressure her into having sex. If the person really cares about her, love and respect her, he will be willing to wait. She should never compromise and give in just to please him. Instead, she should stay focused on what it is that she wants to achieve in her life. After all her life should not be about her pleasing her boyfriend, it should be about her fulfilling her dreams.
Peer-pressure sometimes contribute to teenagers having sex at an early age so you need to make your daughter understand that because her friends are having sex does not mean that she have to have sex too. Tell her she will have sexual feelings at times but that does not mean she has to give in to them. Nevertheless, what if she you find out that in spite of everything you have told her she is having sex, what can you do? You can ground her, tell her she can no longer see her boyfriend or go out with him, but do you honestly think that is going to work. More than likely, they are going to find a way to see each other and you have no guarantee that she will not continue to engage in sex. If it happens once, there is a greater chance of it happening again.
What do you do in a situation like this? Of course, you are going to tell her she should not be having sex, but she already knows that. You can talk to her and punish her but frankly there is very little else that you can do so you might want to try talking to her about protection. Gone are the days when you could give her a pack of birth control pills and tell her to take them. We have not only pregnancy to worry about but also sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS. The safest method of prevention in both situations is the use of the condom.
You might experience a sense of consternation and a feeling of being overwhelmed having to say to your daughter, “If you insist on having sex make sure that a condom is used. It may appear as if you are condoning what she is doing when actually this is the last thing you want happening. Situations such as these help make you realize how difficult the job of parenting can be. There are instances where you are going to have to compromise although you might not want to. To be pig-headed and lay down laws will not necessarily bring about the result you desire. It is the nature of teenagers to be rebellious and if they insist on doing something, in spite of what you say or do they will find a way to do it.
Instead of taking an antagonistic approach, it is better to try to have a good relationship with your daughter. You are not going to feel comfortable with what she is doing but you have to decide which is the lesser of two evils. Should you encourage condom use when you are positive she is having sex or just continue to oppose the idea, hoping that she will adhere to your wishes and at the same time leaving her in a situation where she is exposed not only to the risk of getting pregnant but to also contracting transmittable diseases? There is an old saying that goes “You can lead a horse to the water but you can’t force it to drink.” Trying to prevent the problem might be the better alternative in this situation.
You can take comfort in the thought that having protective sex there is a greater chance of your daughter graduating and go on to college without having her education interrupted by worries of pregnancy. Remember that no matter how trying the circumstances may seem it is not going to be forever.
Do not worry about what other people might think or say it is none of their business. Your goal is to ensure that she receives a good education and a career. This will place her in a position where she will be able to get a good job and thus have economic independence and security.
The day will come when you will be able to breathe a sigh of relief and experience a sense of satisfaction on having done a good job.