For Friends and Family
Oftentimes the first person someone tells about their unintended pregnancy is a close friend. The fact that they confided in you shows that they trust you and value your friendship. So how can you be there for them? If you’ve never been in a similar situation, you may not know how to help. Even if you have, your friend may be reacting differently than you did, or perhaps is considering different choices than the one you made. Whatever the situation, there are some simple things you can do to show your support so that your friend doesn’t feel like they are facing this alone.
- Listen: Let your friend know that you are there if they feel like talking. Simply listening can help them think things through and take some of the stress off because they feel less alone.
- Don’t Judge: People are less likely to open up about their true feelings if they feel like they will be judged. Everyone’s situation is different and until you have walked in someone’s shoes, it’s not fair to judge them. Listen with an open mind and just be there for them.
- Remain Calm: For some, an unintended pregnancy causes panic and fear. Try to be the calm, soothing one in the midst of the crisis.
- Educate Yourself: If they are seeking your advice, it’s a good idea to educate yourself first. By learning more about each of the 3 options (abortion, adoption, and parenting) you will be better prepared to offer an informed opinion – should you be asked for it.
- Offer to Go to The Appointments: For many, it can be scary to go to an appointment alone. Offer to go with to lend support. While you probably can’t be there for the entire appointment due to patient privacy laws, just your presence nearby can be comforting.
- Accommodate the Physical Changes: When someone’s pregnant, their body goes through many changes. Your friend might be nauseous, tired, moody, etc. They might not be up for doing the things they did before. While it can be frustrating if your BFF suddenly doesn’t want to go out on a Friday night, try to be understanding. Find other things you two can do together. Friendships change over time as people grow and go through different stages of their life. The important thing is to always be there for one another.
An unplanned pregnancy can be very overwhelming – not just for the one who is pregnant, but also for the family. This is especially true if it is your child that is in that situation. Many struggle with telling their parent(s) because they are afraid of how the parent(s) will react. You may feel shock, anger, or disappointment. No matter how you feel, it is important to stay calm and try to set emotions aside. What your child truly needs right now is love and support. Here are a few tips on how you can help your child deal with an unintended pregnancy:
- Listen: Parents have a tendency to do a lot of the talking, but this is a situation where you really need to listen to what your child has to say. Yes, depending on the circumstances, this pregnancy may drastically change your life – but it’s not YOUR pregnancy. Your child has feelings, fears, questions about the future, opinions…take the time to really listen to how they are feeling and what they are thinking.
- Don’t Point Fingers: You want your child to come to you for advice, comfort, and support. When they do, don’t react by pointing fingers and placing blame. Things happen and what’s done is done. Right now your child needs help, not a lecture.
- Don’t Persuade or Pressure: No matter how much support from you they will need, this is not YOUR pregnancy. No matter which choice your child makes, it is one they will have to live with for the rest of their life. The decision has to be theirs.
- Educate Yourself: Before giving your opinion, it’s a good idea to educate yourself on each of the 3 options (abortion, adoption, and parenting). That way you discuss each of the options more thoroughly.
- Offer to Go to The Appointments: Some may be relieved to have you by their side; others may want to do this alone or with their partner or a friend. Whatever they choose – respect their wishes. Simply letting your child know that you are willing to go to the appointments with them if needed, lets them know that you are there for them. Also, if you are asked to go, understand that even if your child is a minor, in Illinois, this pregnancy affords them certain rights. Pregnant minors can obtain pregnancy testing, options counseling, prenatal care, and other medical services without needing the consent of their parent(s). Additionally, you will probably be asked to wait in the reception area at some point during the appointment due to patient privacy laws. Please understand that this is in no way meant to cut you out of the picture. At Focus Women’s Center we welcome the support of parents and other family members, but also must respect the autonomy of our patients.
- Love Unconditionally: At the end of the day, the best thing you can do for your child is to love them unconditionally. Just be there for them. Let them know that you will always love them. Children don’t always live up to our expectations, but an unintended pregnancy doesn’t have to tear your family apart. Knowing that you are there for them as they move forward with their decision can make a world of difference to someone in a crisis.