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Not the end of the road! Teens can bounce back from pregnancy

Published:Saturday | June 6, 2015 | 12:00 AM

NE OF the hardest things for any parents to endure is to see their children mess up their future by making bad decisions. It is especially more painful for them to see their daughters, who have not yet even finished high school, drop out because of early pregnancy.

For many, all the years of sacrifice, and all the hopes that were pinned on them, seem to go out the window with that one bad move.

At this stage, it is easy for anger and frustration to step in, with some parents finding it hard to look beyond the bitter taste of disappointment.

But according to Bible teacher Dr Faith Linton, although this can be a devastating experience for all concerned, Linton says that while parents will inevitably show how they are feeling, at the same time, they should make the effort to think about what their daughter is also going through.

"This can enable them to control any extreme reaction or behaviour that will overwhelm her emotionally and possibly lead to depression and a sense of hopelessness. Some parents will need to seek counselling and emotional support for themselves to enable them to give their daughter the help and support she needs," she said.

Getting pregnant during school is not the end of the road where the dream is concerned.

The countless stories of teenagers who have 'come through' with flying colours after early pregnancy are testament to that fact.

According to Linton, there are several ways parents can help their daughters bounce back from the early setback.

"Reassure her that though she has upset you deeply, she is still your child, precious and important to you, and you love her still. Deal with her moral and spiritual need - her sense of guilt and shame and the feeling that she has displeased God. She needs the healing experience of repentance and forgiveness. You may want to invite a counsellor or your pastor to guide her in this," Linton told Family and Religion.

plan to continue studies

Among her other suggestions is for parents to agree on a plan for the teen to continue her studies and move ahead with her career and give her hope and assurance that all is not lost.

Linton pointed out that advice should be offered calmly and clearly and that parents should not "preach at her or lay down the law about what she must or must not do. Allow her to come to her own conclusions and to make her own choices and decisions. Give her time to do this."

There are some mistakes that parents in this situation make. For those who consider abortion as a way to get their daughters back on track, Linton is suggesting that those parents get all the information they can about it first as there are some serious implications to that decision.

Other mistakes, according to Linton, include, "inappropriate punishment, especially sending her away from home. In most cases, the young girl is already suffering and that is enough punishment, she said, adding that there should be no cursing, no physical beating, no threats such as 'We are not spending any more money on your education'.

For those who have already administered this kind of treatment to their pregnant daughters, Linton said they should apologise and make every effort to restore a positive parent-child relationship.

Linton had words of advice for teenagers who may be dealing with the situation right now. "Your child is not a mistake, though the timing and the circumstances may be undesirable. The new life that is now growing inside of you is a gift from God. Prepare to welcome him or her; prepare to love and care for this child. It is important to find out all you can about childbearing and child-rearing."