fbpx

What If Your Teenager is Pregnant

If you ever get the news that your unmarried teenage daughter is pregnant, let me assure you of something… you will get through it, and God will honor His word to cause all things to work together for good.

I’ve seen what many would think be the worst of situations turned into the most wonderful of opportunities.  Even though it isn’t what a parent would want, I’ve got to tell you… hearts turn, a teen matures in ways they would have never matured, and parents embrace their relationship with their daughter in ways they would have never thought possible.

I hope you will never hear such news from your teenage daughter, but if so, your thoughts should focus on the health of your daughter and her unborn child. Your daughter has got to be healthy to birth a healthy child, so stop at nothing to ensure that both of them are taken care of.

Then, your daughter and you have some life-changing decisions to make.

First, for your daughter, the main issue is whether to keep the child or give it to another loving family who longs for a child.  Keeping the child will mean your involvement for many years to come, so you must be a part of that decision.  And should she decide to give up the child, there are plenty of reputable adoption agencies that will help early on, including covering medical and legal expenses. Begin looking early and find one that all of you feel comfortable with.

For you, the grandparents of the unborn child, one of the decisions you’ll have to make is what your role will be once the baby arrives should your daughter decide to keep the child.  Such roles need to be worked out well in advance.

And there is one thing I’d like to shed some light on.  That’s the issue of whether or not you should agree to raise your daughter’s baby.  Do you have a choice?  You bet you do.

It is okay to say “no” to raising your daughter’s child.  It’s okay to say that you just can’t do it.  And the basis of that “no” can be that you just don’t want to, because it’s not what you had planned in life.  As already mentioned, there is another option through adoption that would probably be better if this is the case.  I’ve seen too many new grandmothers who are bitter and too many grandfathers that are angry that they’re having to spend their later years raising a grandchild. Such bitterness often translates into how the child is raised and whether or not they feel loved and accepted.

In an age where parents rescue their kids from every mess they get into, you need not feel obligated to fix this, even if the pregnancy was the result of circumstances beyond your daughter’s control. After all, the child has a great opportunity to be raised by loving and caring adoptive parents. That’s if the child is given up at birth. Things get a lot more complicated once the child is brought home.

BUT, let me also remind you of this. I’m a grandparent. One of the greatest joys in my life are my grandkids. I can’t fathom not raising one of my daughter’s (or son’s) kids and know that any one of the 4 grandkids I have would be given up for adoption. It’s a tough decision for some, it’s an easy decision for me… I think. My daughter wasn’t pregnant as a teen and I never had to make that decision, so it seems easy to tell others what to do. I haven’t been in that position.

So, make this decision with wise counsel and much prayer. I don’t want you to have regrets later in life that you missed the opportunity with your grandchild. My good friend, David Herrmann, who raised his grandson when his daughter was caught in her “mess” for a few years, has been an example of what sacrifice is about. Yet, he wouldn’t tell me it was a sacrifice… he would tell me that it was on obligation that he couldn’t deny or avoid. His daughter “came around”, is now married (I baptized her and had the honor to perform her wedding), and is a great mother to her son who spent the first seven years of his life with his grandparents.

Most of all, you have to be prepared in the event your daughter simply leaves the child for ol’ mom and dad to raise.  That’s why if you don’t have the patience, finances or energy to raise your daughter’s child, it is better that you not commit to it.  It’s my belief that the purpose of a good grandparent gets lost when there isn’t a mother performing the role that she is to play.  And I’m not so sure that a couple’s senior years should be changed just because a daughter decides to heroically “keep” a child conceived out of wedlock, if adoption is a viable option.

But if you want to raise your daughter’s child, at least until she is able to take care of and support the child herself, then go for it! There’s nothing wrong with that option and I’ve seen many a grandparent make an excellent and wise parent.  Sometimes it is a welcomed change for grandparents who miss having children around the house.

Just remember.  One day, this turmoil will all pass and life will move on.  So, continue to love your daughter no matter what she does. Even through this crisis she will get a sweet taste of the character of God, who promises that nothing she can do can separate her from Him, and hopefully, nothing she can do will separate her from you.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and director of Heartlight, a residential counseling center for struggling teens located in Longview, Texas.  He has been married to his wife, Jan, for 40 years, has two kids, and four grandkids.  He lives in Longview, Texas, with the Heartlight staff, 60 high school kids, 25 horses, his dog, Stitch, two llamas, and a prized donkey named Toy.

His past involvement as a youth pastor, Young Life area director, and living with more than 2,800 teens has prepared Mark to share his insights and wisdom about parenting pre-teens and adolescents. You can find out more about Heartlight at HeartlightMinistries.orgYou can also call Heartlight directly at (903) 668-2173.

Mark is also the host of the radio program Parenting Today’s Teen; heard on over 1,600 radio outlets nationwide. Visit ParentingTodaysTeens.org where you’ll find more parenting resources and find a station near you that carries the daily 60-second features or the 30-minute weekend program.  Download the Parenting Today’s Teens App for Apple or Android, it’s a great way to listen on your schedule.

 

 

 


Teen Girls in a Culture of Seduction

Teenagers today live in a world of seduction and permissiveness. Sexual images are everywhere, not just in an occasional movie or magazine.  Younger than ever, they are being torn between living a lifestyle that is deemed acceptable and desirable by their peer group, and doing what has been taught them by their families and church. More times than not, the pressure to “fit in” with their culture wins out when they are away from home.

While teens do understand and welcome (most of the time) their parent’s “messages” about modesty and abstinence, the overwhelming influence of their peers and their culture will dwarf those positive messages. They are feeling a pressure to give in and “belong” that you wouldn’t wish on anyone.  Easy access to pornography, the display of sexual images and themes across all forms of media, and the promotion of “alternative sexual lifestyles,” coupled with messages of instant gratification and a “do what you want” mentality, all set young girls up for a “fall.” By overexposure, they are being convinced that sex is as natural and healthy for them to participate in (before marriage) as breathing or eating, so it is simply no big deal.

If you learn your teenage girl has become sexually active, first try to understand those pressures and why it may be happening. Then, I encourage you to take a couple of “steps back” and don’t respond with your first inclination. Let things “sit” for a time. Gather your thoughts, think through what you want to say, and seek counsel from someone you trust. Just having someone else hear your thoughts and respond to your emotions with a sense of wit and wisdom is always helpful.

You will undoubtedly look at their sexual activity differently than they do. You’ll think of it as a loss of something, like their virginity, innocence, purity, or childhood. But your teen will feel that they’ve gained something, like experience, a stronger relationship, or coming into womanhood. The friction between your sense of loss and your teen’s sense of gain may cause so much heat that your relationship can go down in flames.

I’m not trying to justify your teen’s sinful actions, nor am I “buying into” this seductive culture, but I do know that if handled wrong, you can make your teen feel as though they are unforgivable, forever unclean, and “out of the club” because of their poor choice. It’s where we lose so many teens from our families, from our churches, and from our communities today. Shame on us, for shaming them.

Instead, maybe we should think about how God would approach it. God assures each one of us of His presence always. He doesn’t leave us when we make a mistake, nor does he turn His back on His children when they sin. He doesn’t disappear when the road gets dark, nor does He abandon us during a time of need. He moves toward us, in hopes of change, restoration, forgiveness, and reconciliation. I would encourage you to “Go thou and do likewise” when facing your teen who has fallen into sexual sin.

It does no good to shame the teen. Consequences for sinful and inappropriate behavior? You bet!  Stronger boundaries or even a major change in the teen’s life to keep it from happening again? Absolutely! But not a demeaning presentation of judgment and shame. This type of approach only destroys your relationship, and builds walls of resentment. This is no time to be burning bridges. Your daughter needs you to help her understand that there is a better way. You’ll have no way to do that if the relationship is destroyed.

It’s easy to love a teen when they’re doing well. It’s harder to love them when they’re struggling and making mistakes. But it may be the time that they need it the most. We are never more like Christ than when we give our teen grace in the face of a struggle. And, giving grace when it surely is not deserved may change the direction of the struggle, or even bring it to an end.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and director of Heartlight, a residential counseling center for struggling teens located in Longview, Texas.  He has been married to his wife, Jan, for 40 years, has two kids, and four grandkids.  He lives in Longview, Texas, with the Heartlight staff, 60 high school kids, 25 horses, his dog, Stitch, two llamas, and a prized donkey named Toy.

His past involvement as a youth pastor, Young Life area director, and living with more than 2,800 teens has prepared Mark to share his insights and wisdom about parenting pre-teens and adolescents. You can find out more about Heartlight at HeartlightMinistries.orgYou can also call Heartlight directly at (903) 668-2173.

Mark is also the host of the radio program Parenting Today’s Teen; heard on over 1,600 radio outlets nationwide. Visit ParentingTodaysTeens.org where you’ll find more parenting resources and find a station near you that carries the daily 60-second features or the 30-minute weekend program. Download the Parenting Today’s Teens App for Apple or Android, it’s a great way to listen on your schedule.