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Finding out your teenage daughter is pregnant can create stress and confusion in families, but how you manage it can ensure the family moves forward, with respect and love still intact.

When Girls actress Jemima Kirke found out she was pregnant as a teenager, she decided to terminate the pregnancy but chose not to tell her Mum, instead doing it secretly by using her savings and asking her boyfriend for help.

A mum always thinks her daughter can turn to her, so it can be incredibly hurtful to find out this hasn’t happened. These kinds of secrets can create a fracture in a mother-daughter relationship, with trust and honesty no longer assumed.

Yet in most cases, a parent will be the most supportive person to help navigate through the physical and emotional consequences of an unexpected pregnancy.

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It’s not the time to be alone, even if the teenager thinks it is.

We are a sexually active society. A study from the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society, La Trobe University, showed that over one quarter of Year 10 students and just over half of Year 12 students had experienced sexual intercourse, with 40% of all students surveyed reporting having sexual intercourse.

A small but significant proportion (5%) of these sexually active students across Australia have experienced sex that resulted in a pregnancy.

So what do you do if this is your child? How do you support and help her, even if you’re shocked to the core by this news, particularly if you have no idea that your daughter is sexually active. Where has your baby daughter gone?

“The first thing is to make the teenager feel safe.  She is safe within the family, she is safe having summoned up the courage to tell the truth and she is going to be safe in the future,” advises Sydney-based Psychotherapist and Couples Counsellor Annie Gurton.

“This is not to time for lectures on unsafe sex or being responsible – she is being responsible in telling you and needs you to support her, not read her the Riot Act.”

And make sure that you listen to her.  Does she want an abortion, or does she want to keep the baby?  It should be her choice – she needs to be fully informed and understand the pros and cons of each option. She may need to see a counsellor who will allow her to express herself without trying to persuade her one way or the other.

“Once she makes her decision after she has all the facts, she needs your support and understanding,” suggests Annie. “Whichever choice she makes, there are going to be implications.”

And then it’s time to get practical by making a doctors appointment and working through the practicalities. Depending on the situation, it may be appropriate to involve her boyfriend and his family too. Later, you can talk about how she fell pregnant, and have conversations about her choices.

But what if you suspect she’s pregnant or that she’s already had a termination, and she hasn’t told you?

“A daughter may fear telling her parents that she is pregnant and intends to have an abortion, but in most cases parents will rise to the occasion and be far more supportive than their daughter expected,” suggests Annie. “For parents who suspect their daughter has had an abortion and is not telling them: just ask her. If she denies it, perhaps she has reason for her secrecy and she should be respected, but in the first instance, just ask.”


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What do your kids try to talk themselves out of?

The right to an abortion opens up a whole kettle of fish that frankly is all about personal choice and your own belief and value systems. So what if your daughter wants a termination but you don’t morally agree with it? What then?

“A pro-life belief system is often very deeply held. However it is her life and her body – and her foetus, even if she is barely more than a child herself,” suggests Annie. “It can be extremely challenging to put your personal beliefs aside and accept her choice.”

All she may want is to put this chapter of her life behind her, and move on with her future. That’s her choice and her prerogative regardless of what you believe.

An unexpected teenage pregnancy is a period of massive stress for a parent and their child, but the important thing to remember is aside from all the emotions surrounding it, you are still the parent and she is still your child. And that should never be forgotten.

For help contact your GP or call Pregnancy Help Australia on 1300 737 732

  • I feel for any young girl in this position. She would be so scared and its a huge thing for a young girl (or any girl) to deal with. I don’t have a daughter, but all I can say is that if I ever found myself in this situation, I would support her in what ever decision she wanted to make. Lecturing her wont change anything and will only make her back away from confiding in you again

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  • Either path is a hard one to walk and termination is something she’ll have to live with and may feel guilt about.

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  • I am so thankful that my daughter asked me if she could go on the pill – and explained that there was someone who she felt she was head over heels in love with and didn’t think she would be able to say no should he ask her to have sex with him. So I didn’t have to face this situation – but I’m sure my daughter would have known that I would stand by whatever her decision was and we would have made sure she had thoughtfully considered all scenarios.

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  • Is the pregnant girl going to resent the baby and perhaps develop mental health problems if she has the baby?

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  • Times have changed so much and I have also changed my personal values. It would have been horrific for me if I had got pregnant wihout being married! sure this sounds familiar with many Grandmother mums! I also thought abortion was a sin! Things we were taught are no longer the values of today’s generation,I accept that and see it is an issue for the girl to choose with help and not judgement. as to what is right for her life. Some parents will still have the old values I had and I hope this article helps others to percieve that things have changed. It is an individuals choice with support of family. Each unwanted pregnancy issue is ifferent and has to be dealt with differently. My cousin got pregnant when she was 1 5 and was pushed to get married, they are still together and have weathered the upheavels of life.. so in end was right for her. So good luck and best wishes to all who may face this situation and be able to get clear helpful advice without judgement in the end it is I feel the girls choice as it is her body when all is said and done

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  • This is very tough and whatever option you go with, it is not a decision to be taken lightly.

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  • How pleased I am that my daughter came to me and asked could she have the pill prescribed for her as she was worried she might be tempted with the boyfriend she thought she loved at that time. This is always a dangerous time for young ones.

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  • You try and talk to her or you try and get her to talk to someone. Make sure she knows all her options and that you will support her no matter what she chooses. To have an abortion or to have a baby are huge life changing situations, she needs to be 100% sure with her choice

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  • That’s interesting! Thanks for sharing this!

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  • All very excellent advice.
    Im the Mum of three girls and Im pleased to say that I have a very good relationship with each one of them. I always told them that I hoped that they never had to deal with an unplanned pregnancy but if that was to happen then I hoped that they would not be afraid to come and talk to me. Thankfully we never had to deal with anything like that and my youngest is now 19 so soon I wont have teens any longer.

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  • I f either of my girls told me they were pregnant, I would be shocked but having already discussed this with my girls, they know that I would support them in whatever their decision.
    I had this very talk with one when she thought she was and she knew exactly what she wanted and she was full of reason and conviction about how it would play out. Turns out she wasn’t but I would have supported her and she knew this.

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  • What you do now may shape your future relationship with your daughter. Offer to be there for her whatever she decides. That\’s what you are her Mum for, not to enforce your values on her.

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  • I think a pregnant teenager needs as much support as she could Get!

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  • it s great to read these things fantastik really

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  • looking really good and great

    Reply

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