Male teenagers who are involved in a teen pregnancy often don’t get much attention. And yet while the young woman bears the physical effects, a pregnancy takes two people. If your teen son is involved in a pregnancy, his reaction may surprise you. He may be expecting to do absolutely nothing regarding this pregnancy and “let her take care of it”, or he may be planning to get married and help raise the child. He may have no idea what he wants. He may feel angry, excited, miserable, joyful, apathetic, guilty, or a confusing combination of emotions. If this pregnancy is unwanted, as many teen pregnancies are, he may be having visions of a “worst case scenario”- whatever that means to him.
Barring a medical problem, there are basically three courses for a pregnancy to take, all of which we will discuss in further detail.
Adoption: If the young woman desires to continue the pregnancy and offer the baby for adoption, your son has a say in this. If he is strongly against it, seek legal help; it’s a complicated situation. Your son may be fine with the adoption, but want an active role in deciding on its aspects. He should communicate respectfully to the young woman and her family, expressing his desire to be involved. Encourage your son to become part of the adoption process if he wants to, and maybe even in the pregnancy itself.
Abortion: It is up to the young woman to decide if she wants to terminate the pregnancy. If this is her plan- or it has happened already- explore his reaction with him. He may be pleased at the decision and feel relief, or he may experience feelings of sadness, betrayal, or anger. Sometimes teens feel guilty for feeling relieved, or impatient if they cannot “get over it” as quickly as they feel they ought to. Oftentimes feelings will be mixed, especially as the situation is unfolding. Some young men frustrate their parents by acting like it’s no big deal; in his mind, that may be true. Remember that even though your teen is faced with an adult situation, he’s not an adult. Help him learn how to prevent the situation from occurring again. Make sure he knows he can come to you for advice, support, or a sounding board whenever he wants.
Keeping the child: If the young woman is planning on having and raising the child, this is going to be life-changing for your teen. Here are several important issues you and your teen need to start thinking about immediately:
- Is there any doubt about the paternity of the child? You do have the right to request a paternity test before your teen is named the child’s father. Teen fathers, like adult ones, take on a lot of responsibilities, and your teen may want to ensure that he is in fact the baby’s father. This document has some quick facts on paternity and child support. If you and your teen decide to request proof of paternity, make every effort to do so delicately and respectfully.
- How involved does your teen want to be with the raising of his child? If your teen wants to be a father, he has every right to be. Since the young woman and your teen don’t live together, arranging this can be complicated. In a best case scenario, both families will come together and agree on a plan that works for everyone. If there are disagreements, seek legal advice before making any major decisions.
- How closely can you work with the young woman’s family? Most families will be open to talking to you and your teen about what happens next. While both sets of parents may be surprised at being grandparents, remember that you have much-needed skills and wisdom. If you can all work cooperatively to ensure the well-being of both your teens and their baby, things will go much more smoothly.
No matter what happens, your teen may experience very strong feelings, and you need to encourage him to express them and offer emotional support. You need to do this even if you don’t think his feelings are wise or even valid. If your teen is having trouble coping with the situation, help him seek out a counselor to talk to. Remind him that you love him and are there for him no matter what happens, and mean it.