MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information
A QUICK NOTE TO PARENTS OF A PREGNANT TEENAGER
I have been there. I went through this with my own daughter. I was angry for a short time, but things happen. We were all that age once. Remember how you were and how you felt when you were that age. Being a teenager is hard. Bodies change. Hormones rage. The desire "to fit in and belong" hits an all-time high, making your teen more susceptible to peer pressures and peer bullying. Mistakes happen. It is a learning process. But, as parents, we try to keep our children from making too many life altering mistakes if we can. Unfortunately, our teens are not with us every day, 24 hours a day. They begin to spend more time away from the safety and security of their home and become more interactive with life outside the family setting. They are becoming their own individuals and, hopefully, independent adults one day soon.
Keep in mind their brains are not mature yet. Impulsive behavior and unwise decisions are common-place in our children at this age. Their ability to foresee consequences for their actions and behavior appears to be limited and only comes with maturity and experience. As a parent, I often wanted to "lock my teenager up in a closet until they were at least 25 years old" to keep them from acting out in ways that were not considered appropriate. Of course, I did not do this, but I did get a fair amount of stress-related white hair from this time period. It can be a difficult time for a teenager and a difficult time for parents too. Conflicts are going to happen. Accept this and be prepared.
Sit down and talk with your daughter before she gets pregnant and at an early age and make sure she understands how pregnancy happens. Do it before or at the time when she starts menstruating. Try to keep your communications open with her (I know it is hard when they hit puberty and become more secretive about their lives). Be prepared for a lot of eye-rolling and resistance. Be aware of related peer pressure to participate in sexual activity. Get to know your daughter's friends and be active in her life (whether she protests or not). Stay on top of what she is doing in her life and with her cell phone and internet access. Sexually suggestive text messaging (sexting) and social site pressures (such as facebook) and other external influences are a major issue with modern teens. Try to be involved without being over-bearing. Set rules and stay with them. Boundries are good for teens. Privileges should be earned and used as a positive reinforcement for positive behavior.
If she is sexually active or even considering becoming sexually active, make sure she knows about contraception and uses it. Talk to her about sexually transmitted diseases and how they are caught and treated. Many girls become sexually active at age 13 or so. It is never too early to have that "sex talk" with her (no matter how much she rolls her eyes!), especially if she has started being interested in the opposite sex, has become interested in dating or simple wanting to "hang out" with boys.
If she has already become pregnant, sit down with her (calmly and lovingly) and make sure she understands what has happened to her. Many teenagers have misconceptions about what makes you get pregnant and what methods are used to prevent pregnancy (such as douching with a can of Coca-Cola / Coke-flavored Soda... does NOT work, but she may not know that!).
Parents of sons need to also talk with them about sex and contraception. After all, it does take two to make a baby. They need to know about how babies are made and how to use condoms and other protection to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. They need to understand responsibility and the need to control hormonal surges. It only takes one slip-up and they will be paying child support for the next 18 years or more.
Parents, if your daughter is pregnant, give her all the support she is going to need and all the good advice you can, no matter what decision she makes about the baby. If she decides to keep the baby, grandparenting can be a wonderful blessing. Make sure your daughter takes the responsibility for her child and allow her to mother him or her. Do not allow her to just "dump" the child in your lap. She needs be responsible for her actions and she needs to be the child's mom to help her grow and mature. She will make mistakes as a new parent, but didn't we all when we became a new parent. Babies are not born with written instructions and most of our parenting is trial and error and learned from our parents and life experience. Support her. Love her. Please do not abandon her in her time of need. Once the pregnancy has ended, make sure she has a reliable form of birth control set up for her so it does not happen again until she wants to have another baby, hopefully when she is much older and in a stable relationship with a life-partner. Encourage her to continue with her education and goals. This is important for her and her baby's future.
COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR TEENAGER
WHAT TO DO ABOUT YOUR TEENAGER'S EYE-ROLL
By Judy Willis M.D., M.Ed.
Radical Teaching Blog
PsychologyToday.com: Posted May 25, 2013
Teenagers are geniuses at doing things they know will irritate you.
What to Do About Your Teenager's "Eye-roll"
If you are or have been the parent of a teenager, or have ever spent more than a few hours with a teenager, especially when they are around their friends or parents, you are unfortunately familiar with the disdainful eye-roll. It is often associated with a dramatic sigh or utterances of perturbation. Often it comes after such parental comments as, "Don't you think that skirt is too short?" or "Are your boxer shorts supposed to show above your pants?"
I believe the eye-roll the equivalent of a door slam, either when there is no door available or because they have too many clothes piled on their bedroom floors to get the adequate propulsion needed for a dramatically reverberating doorway.
When you get together with other parents of teenagers, you inevitably compare war stories. Teenagers are geniuses at doing things they know will irritate you. For example, if you like exercise, they lay around in bed. If you are hoping for a calm family dinner, they will grimace and drum their fingers while complaining about the meal. If you try to predict their mood and act accordingly, they will shift moods. If they do agree to your requests, they forget (their term) or ignore (your term) their promises.
Teenagers resent unsolicited attention and advice. They strive to appear grown-up, independent, and self-sufficient. They need to feel capable of finding their way without parental direction. Help is perceived as interference, concern as babying, and advice as bossing.
Teens challenge rules and values to establish their own identity. Teenage rebellion, be it in the form of objectionable hair styles, clothing, or music, messy rooms, or even drinking alcohol and telling lies, is their attempt to initiate separation. You loved your child all of his or her life, but most teens are so vulnerable that they repeatedly test you to prove your love.
Dr. Anna Freud said that these teen behaviors are in their developmental "program" as they seek to free themselves from childhood ties with parents, establish new identifications with peers, and find their own identities. THEY must make the successful transition from kids to young adults, but because along the way they will face life-and-death decisions,
YOU must remain their guardian angel.
Why All The Turmoil?
"It is normal for an adolescent to behave in an inconsistent and unpredictable manner. He can be more idealistic, artistic, generous, and unselfish than he will ever be again, but also the opposite: self-centered, egoistic, calculating." Anna Freud wrote this in 1958 and the words remain true today. Teenagers of each generation need to experiment with different identities before settling into their own adult personality.
Living day-in-and-day-out with teenagers in the midst of their identity search is one of the greatest challenges you will confront. Yet endure it you must because it is this process of conflict and confrontation that enables them to move to their next stage of life. It is a great help if you understand that there is a purpose for all the turmoil. Defiance, in your teenager's mind and challenges to your love is their bumpy pathway to autonomy.
Don't Let Their Behaviors Push You Away
What you can't do is to allow these behaviors to push you away. Tolerate restlessness, respect loneliness, and accept the discontent as part of the natural, but tumultuous, progression from child to adult. Let your child feel sure of your affection and respect. Be there in the background showing your confidence. By serving as an example while spending time with them will, your teens know you love them and that they are worthwhile.
If you don't allow your children to express their anger, frustration, and depression these emotions can come out unconsciously as attempts to get back at you though failing in school, drinking, or other dangerous behavior. If you instead show that you respect them, you will prevent a rupture that can occur in your relationship at a time when maintaining connections is vital to the years immediately ahead.
During this time of natural disorganization and hormonal upheaval, your teens are individuating from the family and developing their own values. Preservation of your own values and demonstration of your faith in their ability will provide tools for their success. If you choose your battles carefully and maintain your child’s respect for your important rules of sobriety and safety and for the values you have embraced throughout their lives, you’ll keep them on track.
Listen Supportively - Don't Solve
It is around the teen years when children stop asking the questions that were so abundant when they were younger starting with, "Where does the sun go at night?" Actually, they stop asking questions and volunteering much when we ask about their day at school or their social events, because they perceive that we are not really listening.
The multitasking we did when they were younger, such as pay bills or fold laundry when they were asking questions or telling us all the details of their day, is ultimately interpreted as us not really listening… or caring about their questions or answers. By the time they are teens most of their voluntary conversation seems to be complaints.
Sometimes silence about what is going on in their lives may be your teens' way of protecting you from anxieties they feel you cannot handle. It is up to you to assure them that you are willing to talk, not just at them, but with them in a realistic manner.
When your teen does open up to you with a problem, she will feel dismissed if you try to simplify her complex feelings and conflicts in your terms or with your experiences. Instead of giving what seems to you as understanding and relating, resist saying, "I know exactly how you feel, I felt that way too at your age."
Whether it is about her terrible best friend, the small size of her room, or the assignment of chores, rather than agree with, minimize, or attempt to solve the situation, resist that instinct. Simply listen attentively, sympathetically, and uncritically.
Active Listening Acknowledges Their Words and Feelings
First wait until they are finished speaking and then, before responding, repeat back what you believe they said… without emotion or judgment in your tone. "Okay, I think you are saying…" By repeating the gist of their statements you show you have listened well and you help them identify their feelings.
Wait a bit, so they can confirm or correct your perception of their words. You can then offer you honest commiseration and understanding. If you don't agree with her opinion or plans, you can keep communication open (and keep doors from slamming) if you acknowledge and reflect your teen's feelings about something even without agreeing with her point of view. Influence her, not by telling her how she should be or act, but by encouraging her to develop self-reflection, morals, and values of her own. You'll be demonstrating your respect while encouraging her to think further and find her own solutions.
Be Direct - Don't Manipulate
Because most parental criticism creates anger and resentment, be direct and avoid sarcasm. If your son does a poor job at washing the shared family car, you might be tempted to say, "I didn't know we had such hard water. I know you washed the car and it's still dirty."
Consider that helpful criticism does not attack the person and arouse defiance; it deals with the difficult event. The direct alternative could be, "I appreciate your effort so far, but the car still needs more work, especially on the top and left side. When can you do it?" This will be more likely to elicit a less emotionally reactive, more positive response.
Choose Your Battles: Be Flexible When You Can, but Consistent the Limits You Set
As an adult your responsibility is to set standards and demonstrate values. Teenagers need to know what you respect and what you expect. Most teenagers, while demanding more independence, are at least in part, begging for structure. They rely on parents to set limits, especially to contain their more reckless impulses. Your goal is not to be your teenager's pal but rather his or her friendly guardian, concerned and strong enough to endure temporary animosity when you uphold standards and values that are in their best interests.
Don't be frustrated when your child opposes your standards, resists your rules, and tests your limits. Part of developing one's identity is testing limits. They should not be expected to like your prohibitions. Since you are better able to control your emotions, anticipate you teen's resentment of rules. Limits should be set in a manner that preserves your teenager's self-respect. When your limits are neither arbitrary nor capricious, and are anchored in values aimed at character building, your child will eventually recognize that you had his best interests in mind.
It will also reduce resistance if you distinguish between your teen's feeling and actions. As with the active listening, be permissive when dealing with your child's feelings and wishes. Then, when you are strict in dealing with unacceptable behavior and enforcing limits, you have shown that you respect his opinions and attitudes, acknowledged his dreams and desires, but reserved the right to stop and redirect some of his actions.
As teens seek more privileges, freedom, money, or privacy parents, ever vigilant, worry about the possibility of falling grades, substance abuse, or increased sexual activity that could potentially follow if they acquiesce to these requests. Rather than let your anxieties force you to become overly restrictive, be flexible when you can. By giving teenagers choices you make them more aware of their power AND responsibility. In turn, the sense of control they feel over part of their destiny gives them more opportunities to consider alternatives and build self-confidence.
For example, if you are open to some of their unusual choices in clothes, teens will be that much less likely to get into power struggles over the big-ticket items such as drugs and alcohol. The more control you allow your teens over their choices, the more likely they are to become confident adults who, when they run into a problem will see what their options are and make a decision based on what they think is best.
Give teens responsibilities to also let them know that adult privileges are earned by taking part in the daily functioning of the family (chores). Be specific about the phone, car, and money, being a result of these contributions. Find ways to allow for them to make choices within certain parameters. For example, dishes need to be done by 8pm. They can be done earlier. However, if they are not done by that time, the privilege of phone conversation will be revoked for the remainder of that evening.
Be ready to react neutrally to cries of 'injustice' when your child suffers the inevitable consequences you have described to him. Maintain a matter-of-fact tone and your stance that it is not a punishment, but a consequence of his choice. The message you'll be sending is that he is part of a family with certain required responsibilities. During the teenage developmental stage of self-engrossment, establishing areas of responsibility helps them learn that freedom is grounded in accountability.
Bring Out Your Teen’s Best for Now and Later
I once was told by a professor that, "A teenager learns what he lives, and becomes what she experiences." When you are an active listener and limit your preaching and passing of judgments, you'll elicit conversations where your teen shares her opinions and emotions and become more self-reflective. When you allow your teens to make some decisions you know aren't great, but that won't be dangerous or hurtful, you build their self-awareness. They will learn from their mistakes and take ownership of their successes.
When you model the values you hope for in your children, respond with more positive and direct responses, and avoid sarcasm, you'll be promoting their positivity and commendable values of their own.
When you provide opportunities for challenge with the support they need to learn from setbacks, teens build confidence to develop self-esteem from successes. Help your teenagers build resilience and perseverance and they will leave home with the power to transform obstacles into opportunities for growth and learning.
ADVICE TO A PREGNANT TEENAGER
If you become a pregnant teenager, your whole life will change and your character will grow by being responsible for another human being. Having a baby is life changing for adult women who have family support and a husband or partner. Your life will change drastically. Talk with your parents as soon as you can. It may be difficult to do this, but you will need help. Hopefully, you have a mom and dad that will help you. They may not be very happy about the pregnancy and may even be quite upset, but most often this will pass with time and your growing tummy. The anger will not last forever. Your parents will eventually accept your pregnancy. Your parents love you and will grow to love your baby too.
Do not worry about messing things up. You will have plenty of people giving you advice. Probably too much. Besides, some of the most successful psychologists, sociologists and well maintained people have messed up kids. Your chances, if you keep your priorities in the right place, set your goals as far as education and career, and employ the support and love of your family, religious counselors or church, community and friends, will be less.
DECISIONS, DECISIONS, DECISIONS
You will have many decisions to make over the next several months. You will have to make decisions about whether you will keep the baby, have an abortion (you have to be early in your pregnancy for this option), or give it up for adoption. These will not be easy decisions and whatever decisions you make, you will have to live with them the rest of your life. Do not make these decisions lightly. Try to talk with your parents or another adult you trust if you need help in making a decision. You may get conflicting advice from various sources, but the final decision is yours to make. Follow your instincts. Usually your first instinct is the best one.
KEEPING THE BABY
Being a single parent is a difficult task, even for adults, but even more so for a teen mother. However, it is a rewarding one, if you decide to keep the baby. It is time consuming, exhausting, and can be stressful. There will be times when you doubt your decision to keep the baby. Children take a lot of work, full commitment and dedication if you are to be a good parent. If you are in a relationship with a boy, you will have to discuss it with him and find out about child support or continued relationship plans. Having a good support system around you is vital, whether it be your boyfriend and a committed relationship with him and/or family members and/or friends, in becoming a good mother and raising a child to be a good and loving person and providing a safe home environment for them to thrive in while they grow.
Decisions about staying in school during your pregnancy will need to be made. If you must drop out, continue with adult education night classes and obtain your GED and consider going on to attend a community college or trade school for further education. Education is very important if you are going to be a single parent because you will need to have a good job to help support you and your baby. College plans are important. Today, if you do not have some college or a degree, you are going to be stuck in a no-where job working for minimum wage. If you do not want college, find a trade school and learn a trade, such as becoming a hair stylist, a chef, or a medical assistant.
Financial decisions for the pregnancy care and the birth will need to be made. Depending on your age and health circumstances, you may not be able to birth your baby outside of a hospital (in a birth center or at home with a midwife) since you may be considered high risk. Hospitals and health care providers are very expensive and if you do not have medical insurance, it will be a heavy financial burden on you.
THE ABORTION CHOICE
Abortion can only be performed early in the pregnancy. You only have a limited amount of time to make this decision. It can be a relief or a traumatic experience for a teen girl (or any woman), depending on where her head is at and her personal feelings about ending the pregnancy. You may or may not regret having an abortion later. There may be social and religious factors involved with your decision.
Abortion is not meant to be used as a form of birth control with repeated abortion after abortion. There are medical risks involved with this medical procedure, not to mention emotional concerns and sometimes regrets with terminating a pregnancy. Do lots of research about it before you proceed and make the decision.
Most of all, you do have the right to choose what method is right for you. Do not be pushed into a decision by other people that you do not want to do, whether it be to keep the baby, abort the baby, or to put the baby up for adoption. If you are too late in your pregnancy for an abortion, then you will have to go through the birth process and make the choice of keeping the baby or adoption.
Giving up your baby for adoption may be one of the most difficult things you do. Later in life, you and/or your child may want to contact each other and may or may not be able to do this. Worry about whether or not a baby will find a good home is always concern for moms. Children, not finding an adoptive parent(s) and growing up in group homes (orphanages) or foster care, often have many emotional problems with feeling abandoned and tossed away by their mothers. Not every baby finds a loving home and is adopted, as much as we would like it to be. But social workers and adoptive agencies try their best to find a good home for their babies and children. I am a firm believer that all babies should be wanted and loved to be able to grow into mentally stable and emotionally secure adults.
However, what ever method you decide to choose, become informed about it and any risks to you and to your baby. Discuss plans with your parents intelligently. Weight all the pros and cons of each possible decision before you make your final decision.
If you have any specific questions regarding pregnancy, childbirth, newborn care, contact your local midwife or health care provider about options and discuss your concerns with that person that will be providing your prenatal care. If it helps, have your parents with you during your meetings with your midwife so that they can also have their questions answered.
After the pregnancy ends, it is vital you get contraception counseling and use it so it does not happen again. Consult with your health care provider, midwife, or local clinic about options available for you and your health concerns. Once you get it, use it!
MoonDragon's Women's Health Information: Abortion Index
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