Dear Dr. Levister: I just learned that my 14-year-old daughter is pregnant. I’m seeing red - that said, how can I be supportive of her? P.W. Dear P.W.: Breathe! It’s not the end of the world. Teenage pregnancy is often a crisis for a young girl and her family, as well as the baby's father and his family. Common reactions include anger, guilt and denial. Your teen might also experience anxiety, fear, shock and depression. Talk to your daughter about what she's feeling and the choices ahead. She needs your love, guidance and support now more than ever. Help your daughter understand the options, health risks and challenges ahead. Discuss the options A pregnant teen — along with her parents, the father of the baby and his parents — has a variety of options to consider: • Keep the baby. Many pregnant teens keep their babies. Some marry the baby's father and raise the baby together. Others rely on family support to raise the baby. Finishing school and getting a good job can be difficult for a teen parent, however. If your daughter is thinking about keeping the baby, make sure she understands the challenges and responsibilities involved. • Give the baby up for adoption. Some pregnant teens choose to give their babies up for adoption. If your daughter is considering adoption, help her explore the different types of adoption available. Also discuss the emotional impact of giving a baby up for adoption. • End the pregnancy. Some pregnant teens choose to end their pregnancies. If your daughter is considering abortion, discuss the risks and the emotional consequences. Keep in mind that some states require parental notification for a legal abortion. In addition to talking to you, encourage your daughter to talk about the options with her health care provider or a specialist in pregnancy counseling.
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