Dealing with teen pregnancy

12 April 2014

It’s the news any mother dreads hearing – your schoolgoing daughter is pregnant. While it’s a difficult situation to be in, it’s not the end of the world. With your support your daughter can still live her life and reach her full potential.

Here’s advice on how to help your pregnant teen:

Keep your anger in check

It’s natural for you to feel angry and disappointed. As a parent you had dreams and aspirations for your child’s future, which didn’t include a teenage pregnancy. You have every right to feel this way, but try to keep your emotions in check. Your teen is going through a difficult time and needs your support.

“Teenagers are at a very critical period in their development emotionally, physically and socially,” Sharon Paulus, a social worker from the Parent Centre, explains. “Your pregnant teen will need someone to talk to who will listen to them and not judge them.”

Rather talk to your husband, a family member or trusted friend about your anger and disappointment.

Support them

Offer your daughter emotional, physical and financial support. Talk to them about the difficulties they might face as a pregnant teen and young mother. “The teen will need lots of support emotionally with their own needs and the role of being a parent,” Paulus says.

Antenatal care is crucial for the health of your teen and her baby. They should start to attend antenatal appointments as early as possible to ensure they get all the routine medical checks and care they need, she adds.

Offer to babysit every now and then so your teen can go out and socialise with people her age. “All parents need some ‘me-time’ occasionally,” she says.

Consider all the options

Remind your daughter she has options. She can decide to keep the baby, or give it up for adoption, put it into foster care or get an abortion.

These decisions can affect a teen for the rest of her life and shouldn’t be taken lightly, says Johannesburg social worker Warren Thompson. Knowledge is key – speak to professionals, not friends and relatives.

“I would also recommend that a social worker or therapist be sought, and the teenager and family sit down together. A therapist can mediate the different options without bias and get all parties to consider opinions alternative to their views.”

Help them stay in school

Tell your child that having a baby doesn’t mean she should give up on her education and dreams. A good education is also crucial for her and her baby’s future wellbeing, says Thompson. “It’s vital for a child to finish their schooling as it provides the key to a better future and the fulfilment of their full potential,” he says. “In the long run it also provides a better economic standpoint from which to support a child and build a future.”

Your teen can’t look after her baby when she’s in school. Either offer to look after it, or help make care arrangements. When it comes to exam time, you can offer to help out more so your teen can focus on her studies.

Financial support also plays a role in keeping a teen in school, says Thompson. “It’s impossible to raise a child and go to school when there’s no money for food or nappies. At this point a teen will look for work instead of completing their schooling.”

Get some help

Go to these websites for more help:

The teen parenting programme at The Parent Centre:

www.theparentcentre.org.za (or email marketing@theparentcentre.org.za)

Families South Africa:

famsaorg.mzansiitsolutions.co.za/ (or call 011-975-7106/7)

-Petro-Anne Vlok

Picture: Thomas van Ardenne on Flickr

Find Love!

Men
Women