If you have just learned that your teen is having a baby, you're probably experiencing a wide range of emotions, from shock and disappointment to grief and worry about the future.Some parents feel a sense of guilt, thinking that if only they'd done more to protect their child this wouldn't have happened.Before long, we had our own inside jokes, a shared eye-roll at yet another lover's quarrel in a small space.
And though it's certainly not what most parents expect, it happens every day: nearly 250,000 teenage girls in the United States give birth every year.Recognize your feelings and work through them so that you can accept and support her. You might have a strong flood of emotions to deal with, especially at first.Does that mean you don't have the right to feel disappointed and even angry? But the reality of the upcoming baby means that you'll have to get beyond your initial feelings for the sake of your daughter and her child.Just a short time ago your teen's biggest concerns might have been hanging out with her friends and wondering what clothes to wear.Now she's dealing with morning sickness and scheduling prenatal visits. Most unmarried teens don't plan on becoming pregnant, and they're often terrified when it happens.The important thing is that your teen needs you now more than ever.Being able to communicate with each other — especially when emotions are running high — is essential.Although some boys may welcome the chance to be involved with their children, others feel frightened and guilty and may need to be encouraged to face their responsibilities (the father is legally responsible for child support in every state).That doesn't mean, however, that you should pressure your teen son or daughter into an unwanted marriage.How wonderful it felt to have an "adult" who valued our opinion; thought we were not just cute but interesting. I was wearing a Bundeswehr tank top I'd gotten at an Army supply store and faded jeans, a thrift shop crucifix around my neck. But as we sat there together in the sunshine, the wine buzzing my head, I suddenly felt … With real life, however, and memory especially, it is harder to keep things so neat and organized. In the first, I snuck out of the house with a guy friend who lived down the street. My friend came back, we went home and I slid back into my bed. The second incident I remember happened when he was giving me a ride home. I'd been quiet for so long, worried about hurting his feelings and the ripple effects of whatever actions I took. You don't need to offer an explanation, even if someone asks you for one. You can't just hang out with a guy and not expect him to get ideas, I told myself. Especially for girls, who are often taught that being polite and sweet should override all other instincts. That if something feels wrong, that's all the reason you need to get out of there. My best friend was 14 when she fell in love with a 21 year old. My friend's older boyfriend was close with a guy I'll call T. My mother, spying him from the front window, asked me how old he was."I don't know," I said. After awhile, my friend and her boyfriend disappeared, leaving T. Many memories remain fuzzy, but incidents such as that day in the forest remain in crisp detail. It was late and my parents were asleep as we drove over to the house where T. At some point, my friend left to go somewhere, and for whatever reason I didn't go with him. Maybe he only stepped out to go to the store down the block. This was after the night at his house, though how much later I cannot say. "That's your mom talking."I told him that this wasn't true: it was my choice. He stopped the car with a jerk, right past the top of my driveway, and I grabbed the door handle and got out. For many years afterward, I took total blame for everything that happened between me and T. It was with this in mind that I began my narrator Sydney's story in I'm 44 now, married with a daughter of my own. The teen years loom ahead and I've experienced too much to rest easily. Don't worry about being nice, or hurting someone's feelings: they'll get over it. You don't have to wait, I want to tell her, until you have no choice.