Disclaimer: Parenting is parenting and there is much more crossover in “mom” roles and “dad” roles these days. Read both sections and take whatever advice seems appropriate. See Advice for Dads.
This crisis is an opportunity to be there for your daughter.
Some mothers and teenaged daughters tell each other everything and others seem to be opposing each other at every turn. This crisis is an opportunity to be there for your daughter. The best thing you can do is really work to understand what your daughter thinks and how she feels. A rush to action may not be the most helpful in developing her ability to take care of herself and make good decisions for herself.
“I don’t want her to make the same mistakes I did.” “I raised her by myself; why should she get a free pass?”
It is critical to examine what this situation brings up for you emotionally before you look at what her life holds for her. If you have had a hard time in life, do you want to protect her from the pain that you went through or do you want to punish her because of what you had to go through? Most parents want what’s best for their kids: they want to protect their future, help them get a good start, and make it easier for them. At the same time, you may want to find someone to talk to about what you have gone through and achieved.
“I got pregnant at her age.” “I had an abortion which she doesn’t know about.” “I had a baby when I was very young, and it wasn’t easy.”
Many young people are moved by the honest stories of what their parents experienced. Disclosure of teen pregnancies, abortion, or adoption can open up new ways of talking about this situation and allow you to tell how you felt and what you learned from your experiences.
“I am done raising kids!” “She’s pregnant with my grandchild.”
Although this pregnancy has the greatest impact on your daughter, it will also affect you. You may feel that the responsibility for raising a child will fall on you since your daughter is so young. Or, you may like the idea of a baby—a grandchild you can fuss over. It is totally appropriate to set limits on what you can and cannot offer her and a child. Speak honestly about what you want for your own life and the struggles you have had. You probably have some mixed feelings about the idea of bringing a new life into the world and it’s OK to talk about all of the things it brings up. Ultimately, it is a decision about her life, not yours, but she deserves to know how you see the impact on your life. Tell her in ways that she can hear—not yelling, accusatory, or blaming, but from your heart.
“It’s not easy being a mother.” “Men can walk away—you can’t.”
Mothers often find themselves explaining a world that is not always fair to women and girls. It is still true that mothers have most of the responsibility for raising children. This doesn’t mean you agree with this unfairness. Encourage your daughter to go after what she wants, be it an education, a career, motherhood, or all three.
“Her father tries to buy her affection.” “It’s his turn to handle a crisis.”
If you and her father are estranged, it is important to sort out your relationship with him and his responsibility to her. If it is possible to work together you will lessen the possibility that you and your ex-partner will be at cross purposes. A decision about a pregnancy will affect all of your lives, including your current partner or family, and should be made considering what is best for your daughter, a potential child, as well other family, including you.