As parents hearing the news that our child is unexpectedly pregnant, we might experience mixed emotions. But it’s crucial that we ensure that our first reaction is encouraging and supportive: “Wow, a baby! How wonderful that we have a new little person in the world!” This is what we need to express more than anything else. You must be concerned for the well-being of your child and your grandchild at the same time. Although you might justifiably be very concerned about your child’s conscience and judgment if sexual immorality was involved, these matters shouldn’t be mentioned in the first conversation. The moment of receiving positive pregnancy test results isn’t the time to review the rules of chastity.
As the director of a crisis pregnancy center, I counsel many women from religious and pro-life households who are experiencing unplanned pregnancy. Despite their upbringing, many consider abortion because they see it as a way to avoid the shame of having their families learn they’ve been sexually active outside of marriage.
We parents must be careful with our words and behavior so that, if necessary, our children will feel comfortable enough to tell us about an unplanned pregnancy. If we speak judgmentally of others who experience unplanned pregnancy, it won’t matter how many times we tell our children that abortion is wrong or that they can always come to us, because we’ve given them the impression that we would be condemning rather than compassionate.
When we talk about chastity with our children, we need to make it clear that a baby is not a mistake or a punishment; a baby is a beautiful gift from God, Who can bring good out of every failure.
After receiving the news of your child’s unplanned pregnancy, you’ll likely have at least a few months to address finances, medical care, education, employment, living arrangements, and spiritual well-being. Talk about one problem at a time instead of trying to solve everything immediately. Remind your child that you’re there to help and everything is going to work out.
Parents of a young dad should reach out and offer to help the child’s mother. I’ve known clients who were abandoned by the baby’s father, but encouraged to choose life because the baby’s paternal grandparents supported her when their son didn’t.
Be sure to help your child find a pro-life obstetrician. An obstetrician who commits or refers for abortions might pressure a young woman to have an abortion, and in some states, parental consent is not legally required—even for minors. A doctor could even commit an abortion at the office and advise the young mother to tell her parents she had a miscarriage.
Unfortunately, those experiencing unplanned pregnancy rarely feel comfortable confiding in their parents. In light of this sad reality, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is that our children see us being supportive of others experiencing unplanned pregnancy. This way, if our own children ever face the same situation, they’ll trust us to help them choose life.
Joan Fasanello is the founder and director of Life Choices, Inc., a pregnancy center and American Life League Associate group in Phillipsburg, New Jersey. She and her husband, John, have been married for 28 years, and have four children and one grandchild.