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Confused? You're Not Alone
If you've just learned you're pregnant, you're not alone.
You might feel confused, scared, or shocked by the news. You might think, "This can't
really be happening." You promise yourself you'll be so much more careful in the future.
And you know you'll probably have to tell your parents.
Preparing to Talk to Parents
No matter how close you are to your parents, you're going to wonder how they'll react.
It's one thing if your parents realize you're having sex and they're OK with that. But
it's another thing if they've forbidden you to date or if having premarital sex is
completely against their values and beliefs.
Most parents fall somewhere in the middle. For example, some parents have pretty liberal
values but they're still shocked to learn their teen had sex. Even parents who know their
teens are having sex can still be disappointed or worried about their future.
Your parents' personalities also play a part in how they'll react. Some parents are easy
to talk to or calmer in a crisis. Some are more emotional, more easily stressed out, more
likely to get upset or angry, to yell or cry, or express themselves loudly.
Most parents want to be supportive of a daughter who is pregnant (or a son who got a girl
pregnant), even if they are angry or upset at first. But a few may react violently to the
news and let anger get out of control. If you think your parents might fall into this
category — for example, if they have a history of physical violence — read the section
on "Protecting Yourself" at the end of this article.
Some parents don't show how they feel at first. They may take time to absorb the news.
Others react quickly and there's no mistaking how they feel. Some will listen and be
sensitive to your feelings. Some parents will spring into action, taking charge and
telling you what to do.
Think about how your parents have reacted to other situations. Try to imagine how they
might respond — but remember it's impossible to really know for sure. Still, thinking
about what to expect can help you feel prepared for the conversation you plan to have.
First, find the words. You might say, "I have something difficult to tell you. I found out
that I'm pregnant." Then wait. Allow your parents to absorb what you said.
Be prepared to deal with the reaction. What happens next? Will your parents be angry,
stressed, or emotional? Will they lecture you? Use harsh words? Ask a ton of questions?
It's good to think ahead about what you might do and how you may feel. For instance, if a
parent yells, you'll want to be prepared so you can keep the conversation productive and
resist any urge to yell back.
Of course, not every parent yells. Many don't. Even if parents have a strong reaction at
first, most want to help their children. Lots of teens are surprised at how supportive
their parents turn out to be.
It can help to tell your parents that you understand their feelings and point of view.
Saying things like, "I know you're really mad," "I know this isn't what you wanted for
me," or, "I know this isn't what you expected" can help your parents be more
understanding. The key is to be honest and speak from the heart. If you say what you think
parents want to hear or make statements just to calm them, it might sound fake.
Give your parents time to speak without jumping in. Listen to what they say. Let them vent
if they have to.
Tell them how you feel. Part of your conversation might involve telling parents how you
feel. For example, if you know you've disappointed them and you feel sorry about it, say
that. Let them know if you feel disappointed in yourself, too.
You might say, "Mom and Dad, I know I've disappointed you. I know you're upset. I'm really
sorry for putting you through this. I'm disappointed in myself, too."
Share your fears and worries, such as, "I'm scared about how I'm going to handle this,
what my friends will think, and what it means about school." Or, "I can't believe this is
happening to me and I'm not sure what to do."
Putting your feelings into words takes plenty of maturity and it's not easy to do. Don't
worry if the words don't come out perfectly or if you cry or get emotional as you're
saying them. It can help to think about your feelings ahead of time. If you can't imagine
expressing your feelings out loud, consider writing them down in a letter.
If you need to, get help breaking the news. A visit to your doctor's office or a health
clinic is a must — not just for your health, but to get more information and discuss the
realities of your situation. You'll want to understand your choices and explore your
feelings with an experienced professional. During your visit, the doctor, nurse, or health
counselor also can help you think through how to tell your parents. If you want, they
could even be there as you talk to your parents.
Talking About Your Decisions
Now that you've told your parents, you'll have some important decisions to make. Talking
decisions over with others can help. Sometimes parents — including your boyfriend's
parents — can offer a new angle or ideas.
Whatever you decide, it needs to be what you want, not what someone else wants you to do.
That's especially true if you think most of the child-raising will fall to you. It's a big
Becoming a teen parent affects your education, job, and financial future — and often
your boyfriend's too. Over half of teen pregnancies end with the birth of the baby. Some
teens decide to keep the baby. Others let someone adopt the child. Some teen pregnancies
end in miscarriage, and about one third end in abortion.
Talking about your options isn't easy, especially if none of them is what you had in mind.
Some families need the help of a counselor to talk about this difficult and complicated
situation in a way that lets everyone be respected and heard.
It's More Than Just Breaking the News
Talking to a parent about your pregnancy takes more than just one conversation. In the
coming months, you'll probably have many different feelings all at once. Sometimes, you
might feel shock and disbelief. Other times, you may be scared or worried. You may feel
sad, guilty, or angry at yourself. At times, you might also feel excited and happy.
Some days you might be ready for what's ahead. Other days, you may feel totally unprepared
and confused. You'll have many emotions to sort through and it will take time. It helps if
you can talk to a parent about all these thoughts and feelings.
To some parents, the news that you're having a baby will feel like a terrible crisis.
Depending on their beliefs, cultural values, or personalities, parents might feel shame,
guilt, or embarrassment. They might feel angry and assign blame. Sometimes parents scream,
yell, and use putdowns. In some cases, anger can get out of control.
You know your parent and you know your situation. If you need to tell your parents you're
pregnant but think they might react in a way that could hurt you, have someone else with
you when you tell them. If you're concerned about your safety, get advice. A teen health
clinic, such as Planned Parenthood, or a teen pregnancy hotline can guide you and steer
you toward resources to support you.
Of course, most parents won't react with extreme anger. The thing to remember is every
parent is different and you know yours best.
When Parents Have Your Back
Talking to parents whenever you can is a good way to sort through the many feelings and
issues that arise. In the best of situations, parents can help you make important
decisions and support your choices. They can be a source of guidance and encouragement.
Sometimes a difficult situation brings people closer and strengthens their bonds.
Sometimes, however unexpectedly, a difficult situation can help a family discover
unconditional love, support, kindness, forgiveness, acceptance, teamwork, and optimism.