How To Tell Your Parents
You are pregnant. You never meant for this to happen. You need to tell your parents. But you are terrified of their reaction. Will they be angry? Will they be disappointed? Will they throw you out of the house?
Your parents’ reaction may not be as bad as you think. One teen mother that spoke to Iowa Right to Life offered this advice: “Don’t be scared because most times your parents will surprise you. They may be upset but that’s a normal reaction.”
According to a study from the University of Georgia, 89% of pregnant teens were happier having told their parents.
Try to look at things from your parents’ perspective. As a teenager, you are beginning to make more decisions on your own and assert your independence. But your parents still feel the need to “parent” – to guide you, protect you and love you. Change is as scary for them as it is for you.
If it helps, tell one parent first and have that parent assist in telling your other parent. Or enlist the help of a trusted grandparent, school guidance counselor or your church pastor to help tell your parents.
To show real maturity, take responsibility for your actions. Review your options before talking to your parents, so you are prepared to discuss them when your parents are ready.
Telling Your Parents You Are Pregnant
1. Prep Your Parents for the News:
“I know you know you may be angry, hurt and disappointed from what I am about to tell you. But I did not mean to cause you any pain.”
2. Tell Them:
“I am pregnant. I did not mean for this to happen and I am sorry.”
Tell them if you have had an over-the-counter pregnancy test or have visited a clinic for a pregnancy test. Tell them who the father is, if you know.
Let your parents vent. They may yell, they may be cry, they may be shell-shocked. Just listen, don’t argue. People will say hurtful things which they don’t really mean when they are angry and stressed, so try not to take anything too personally. Don’t yell back, you will only make it worse. Things will cool down.
4. Give Your Parents Some Space:
Emotions will be running high, so ask you parents for some time – 24 or 48 hours before sitting down and continuing the discussion. “I know this is a shock to you. I think it would be best for us to take a break – maybe sleep on it. In the morning, I would like to present my options to you and get your input.”
5. Take Responsibility for Your Actions:
Go over your options with your parents. Review how the options will effect them. If you decide to keep the baby, certainly your parents will have a role to play in raising the child or financing child care while you are in school. If you decide to give the child up for adoption, your parents may help get you to doctor appointments and navigate health insurance issues. Your mother may be a valuable resource about the changes going on inside your body. You may want one or both parents to be with you in the delivery room. If you are considering abortion, both you and your parents need to know about the risks and consequences involved.
If your pregnancy is the result of an abusive family situation or you feel that you will be in danger of physical harm, if your family finds out about your pregnancy, review the rules for Reporting Sexual Abuse below.
You’re Going to be Alright
Things are a little terrifying right now, but you are going to be alright. You made it this far in your life, didn’t you? There are many scary statistics about teen mothers ending up on welfare, but you don’t have to be one of those statistics. Pregnancy does not have to be the end of the world. In fact, it might just be a beautiful beginning.
Sources: MS Griffin-Carlson and PJ Schwanenflugel, “Adolescent Abortion and Parental Notification: Evidence for the Importance of Family Functioning on the Perceived Quality of Parental Involvement in U.S. Families,” J Child Psychol Psychiat 39(4):543 (1998)
Reporting Sexual Assault
What you need to do if you are the victim of a rape or sexual assault:
1. Do not shower or bathe.
You might wash away critical evidence against your attacker. Do not wash any clothing you were wearing when the assault occurred – you will need to bring them with you to the emergency room.
2. Go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
They will do the necessary tests and refer you to agencies that will help you through the process of reporting the assault to authorities.
- Timing is critical – if the “date rape” drug was used, it will be out of your system in a number of hours.
- The hospital may need to test you and treat you for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
- Emergency room personnel may offer you Emergency Contraception (Plan B or “The Morning After Pill”). Read our info on Emergency Contraception before making that decision. (Link to Emergency Contraception page)
3. Press charges.
Though the legal process is a difficult one, it can empower victims to help themselves and also to prevent their attacker or attackers from hurting others.
- If your attacker is a member of your family or close to your family and you may not feel safe in your home, authorities can find you a safe place to stay.
- If you are a minor, a court of law may appoint a “guardian ad litem” – a court-appointed attorney to represent your interests and help you through the process.
4. Accept help.
You have been through a traumatic event. Do not try to go it alone. There are counselors and support groups available.
Here is a good place to start: InnerVisions Health Care