It’s only two little words, but they have a profound impact when you say it out loud.
It’s probably tempting to not say them at all, but the reality is that honesty is always the best policy. Honesty is not about making them feel better; it's about the heaviness of carrying a secret. Once you get the truth out in the open you will feel relief because that is the nature of honesty.
Usually, in healthy relationships, your loved ones are excited, happy, and supportive. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes, when our parents should be our biggest cheerleaders in life, they aren’t. And that makes telling them you’re pregnant extremely difficult. Even when we don’t have strained relationships with our family members, admitting to pregnancy could lead to drama that wasn’t there before. Especially if your parents are unaware that you are sexually active or if they have high hopes of you going to college.
But the root of anxiety when admitting to pregnancy is that you just don’t know how parents will respond. Most parents will want to be supportive of a child who is pregnant (or got someone pregnant) even if they express anger or disappointment at first. But a few parents may react harshly to the news. Some parents won't show how they feel at first, and that is okay. They may take time to absorb the news. Others react wildly 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 giving you clear guidance.
Think about how your parents have reacted before in other difficult situations. Try to imagine how they might respond, and then prepare for that reaction. Thinking about what to expect can help you feel prepared for the conversation you need to have.
So how do you tell a parent you are pregnant? Here are a few tips to guide you through the process.
Casually blurting out, “I’m pregnant,” might not be the most tactful. Instead try something like, “I need to talk to you about something. I found out that I’m pregnant and I need your help.” Don’t forget to wait and give them a moment to respond and express their feelings.
2. Be Prepared For Any Reaction
Remember to remain as calm as you can and resist the urge to yell or snap back. When you found out you were pregnant you probably felt a slur of emotions, too. Your parents will feel those same emotions. Give them time to process and vent. The best way to break the news is to imagine how you will respond to any reaction they could have and rehearse your response. When it is right to do so, remind your parents that you are capable of working through this together and you want them to guide you as you make the right choices together.
3. Face Your Feelings Before Hand
Putting your feelings into words is not easy to do, even for adults. Don't worry about the words if they don't come out perfectly or if you say them out of order. It’s okay to cry or get emotional as you share them. Before you tell your parents you are pregnant, it can help to think about your feelings and sort them out ahead of time. This will help you feel more in control of the situation. If you can't imagine expressing your feelings out loud to them, write them down in a letter instead. You can either email it to your parents or read it out loud so you stay on track.
4. Don’t Do It Alone
If you know your parents are predisposed to violent reactions or you simply just can’t face them, find someone to do it with you. Sometimes an extra person can keep the situation calm and orderly. As the saying goes, “there is strength in numbers.” Asking a best friend, an older sibling, an aunt or uncle, are all great places to start. If you have a counselor ask them to help you. In fact, you can practice on them before you face your parents.
Another alternative is to make a doctor's appointment to verify your pregnancy and then ask your doctor for help telling your parents. This is especially helpful if you don’t feel safe at home and need professional support.
You can also reach out to your local pregnancy resource center and make a confidential appointment with a trained counselor. These centers see pregnant teens all the time and are safe places to go to for confidential support. The advocates at the center are able to help you sort out your feelings, give you emotional support, provide you with any resource you might need, as well as verify your pregnancy with a free ultrasound and pregnancy test (tests can be expensive if performed at a hospital or a doctors office.) Since not all pregnancies are viable (i.e. you could be miscarrying or have a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy) getting yourself checked out before you tell your parents is a great plan and will help you feel more confident. A pregnancy resource center will never share your visit with a parent and they are safe spaces to go for help. In some cases, they can tell your parents for you! They never charge for their services so you won’t have to worry about co-pays, bills, or cash.
What If My Parents Suggest An Abortion?
Now that you are pregnant you have to make many decisions. It’s not as easy as going to a clinic for pills or a procedure. You will have to talk with your partner or the person who got you pregnant. You will have to decide how and who will pay for the procedure, and then you must weigh the medical risks of an abortion. While most women feel immediate relief after an abortion, many report developing depression soon thereafter and are at higher risks for substance abuse. If you are prone to depression already, an abortion might make it worse. These are conversations you need to have with your parents and your doctor. Abortion is not something to run into quickly without thinking about the outcomes.
If your parents want you to have an abortion but you do not, consider that for you to terminate a pregnancy based on the feelings of someone else is not being emotionally honest or true to yourself. Parents might be appeased, but they won’t have to live with your scars, your thoughts, your emotions, your depression, or live inside your head for the rest of their life. You do. Ask yourself if abortion is what you really want and then be honest with your parents about how you feel about it. Often when emotions are high, abortion seems like the “easy way” to get back to normal. But it is important to go over all the options with your parents and take your time before you make a hasty choice. After you have told your parents about the pregnancy, suggest they make an appointment at your local pregnancy resource center to discuss your options together with a professional pregnancy counselor.
Prepare for More Than One Conversation
Having just one conversation with your parents is unrealistic. Prepare to have more conversations in the weeks and months to come. Becoming pregnant (or knowing you will become a father) will bring on many feelings for you. Some days you will feel totally in control and other days you will feel overwhelmed, excited, discouraged, unsure, and scared. These are all normal emotions and having a parent you can go to will help you. Some teens find that they become closer to their parents during this time. New life has a way of bringing families closer together and strengthening family bonds. Remember, your parents might be stressed now, but when they see their grandchild the shock of your pregnancy will melt into love, acceptance, and family unity.
For anyone, it can be incredibly difficult to say, “I’m pregnant” to your parents, especially if they are not generally supportive. In contrast, however, consider what they will say when they find out years later that you never told them you were pregnant and struggled alone? Parents, even though relationships can be strained and awkward, deserve a chance to help you work through your problems.