According to statistics, almost one million teenage girls become mothers every year. And DoSomething.org reports that in 2008, “the teen pregnancy rate among African-American and Hispanic teen girls, age 15 to 19, was over two and a half times higher than the teen pregnancy rate among white teen girls of the same age group.” If you’ve just found out your daughter is going to be a teen mom, here are some tips for ensuring a bright future for your growing family.
YOUR TEEN NEEDS YOU
Despite your talks about sex and the risks involved, your teen went ahead and engaged in an adult activity—sex—and then became pregnant. You may be feeling angry, and your anger may lead you to feel she has made her bed, and now must lie in it. Allow yourself to be angry about your teen being pregnant—but then move on. Throwing your teen out of the house or disowning her is not the way to handle the situation. She needs you now, more than ever.
IT’S NOT THE TWO OF YOU AGAINST THE WORLD
According to KidsHealth, “nearly 1 million teenage girls in the United States give birth every year.” In other words—you and your teen are not alone. Don’t act like you are. Do a web search or ask your doctor about support groups for moms and their teen moms-to-be.
Read Related: Teen Motherhood: I Did it But I Don’t Recommend It
There are no two ways about it: Your pregnant teen must commit to finishing school or at least obtaining an equivalency diploma. Teen Pregnancy Statistics reports that out of the almost one millon teens who give birth every year, “almost 7 out of 10 will drop out of school before completing high school.” In addition, “less than 2% of teen moms go on to get a college degree.” The sobering statistics continue: “80% of women who have babies when they are teens spend at least part of their life dependent on welfare, and they have serious disadvantages in achieving financial success and independence in life, largely due to their lack of education.” Help your teen avoid being a statistic by helping her finish school and go to college.
MOTHER & CHILD: STAYING HEALTHY
Teenagers aren’t famous for taking care of themselves, but now your daughter has a baby on board who needs vigilant care as he or she prepares to make an entrance into the world. You’re going to have to help your daughter take her first steps towards being a great mother—and that means taking care of herself and her growing baby, seeing a doctor regularly, and getting educated about what her new life as a mom will entail (including post-pregnancy issues like breastfeeding).
GET THE DADS IN ON THE DISCUSSION
Your daughter has a father, and her baby has a father, too. Get them involved in the conversation. Your growing family needs support in all its incarnations: emotional and financial included. Whether it’s at home or in the office of a family counselor, it’s time for Mom, Dad, and the parents-to-be to sit down and discuss the future.
Your teen needs to look forward at her future as a responsible adult and mother. DoSomething.org reports that “about a quarter of teen moms have a second child within 24 months of their first baby.” When planning for the months and years ahead, help your teen get educated about her responsibilities to herself and to her family. That means discussing a wide range of topics for a healthy future, including safe sex and postpartum wellness.
YOU HAVE NEEDS TOO
Don’t forget that your life is about to change too, and your needs as a mother and grandmother need to be addressed. Don’t allow yourself to be pushed into a role you’re not comfortable with; initiate an open and ongoing dialogue about the future. Consider joining a support group for the mothers of teen moms. Remember, you can be a supportive and active mother while still looking out for your own needs, too.