How to Respond to Your Daughter’s Unexpected Pregnancy

The importance of supportive parents.

Tiffany Smart July 19, 2014
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When facing an unexpected pregnancy, life immediately becomes a crisis. Every decision made is not only important, but life-changing. There are many decisions for single expectant mothers to be make, including choosing marriage, single parenting, or placing their child for adoption. During this sensitive and delicate time, it is important for them to have the support and guidance necessary as they contemplate these choices for them and their child.

Support can come from many sources, but the most important and influential support comes from the expectant mother’s parents or guardians. Starting from the moment she tells them about her pregnancy to the day she delivers, she needs the love and support that only her parents can provide. This can be a very confusing and fearful time for everyone, including her parents, who are supposed to be her unwavering strength.

Having been a single expectant mother not too long ago, I learned firsthand how necessary parental support and guidance was for me. I was blessed with a very loving mother, who had also faced an unexpected pregnancy in her youth. Using her experience as a guide, she was able to provide me with incredible strength and support that was crucial for my decision-making process.

Every situation and family is different, but here are our suggestions for parents who have children facing an unexpected pregnancy. Of course, there are always unique circumstances when parents should intervene for the child or expectant mother’s behalf. This list doesn’t apply to everyone.

  1. First and foremost, just listen. Listen the first time she tells you she’s pregnant. Listen to her initial thoughts and reactions. Listen to the endless rants about the boyfriend. As hard as it is to refrain from giving advice prematurely, listening is much more effective than any advice and will go a lot further with her, too. If she can tell that you genuinely care, she will continue to open up to you and also be more receptive to your advice later.
  2. Realize and remember this isn’t about you, as hard as that can be. It can be hard to refrain from getting caught up in the excitement of a new baby and being a grandparent. It’s a natural instinct to immediately love this baby and have the desire to have them in your life. Remember that it’s 100% harder on the expectant mother because she also feels these instincts and desires too. Don’t put your needs above the expectant mother’s.
  3. Educate yourself on all the options available. This can be a very confusing and uncertain time, and the best solution to alleviate fears is to get familiar with choices. Just like you wouldn’t buy a house without researching your options, every big decision should be made knowing all the available choices.
  4. Keep an open mind in conjunction with researching your options. Times have changed from the days of hiding pregnancies and giving babies away in secret. Adoption is not the same today as it was back then, and it’s also not the same as it is portrayed in the media.
  5. Remember that this is ultimately the expectant mother’s decision. You shouldn’t force your opinions or beliefs on them because that will create a barrier in your relationship. It’s understandable that this is your child and you want to fix the situation for them the best way you know how. But if you push too hard, they will rebel. If you feel strongly against their decision, try a gentler approach. Remember you are here to support them, but you can’t do that if you push them away.
  6. Know that decisions may change day to day and even minute to minute. It is completely natural for an expectant mother to change her mind multiple times about her decision. In fact, this is helpful and necessary for her as she explores all her options. As frustrating as this can be for you, just remember to stay supportive. This is going to be a crazy emotional roller coaster. There are going to be ups and downs, happy days and really, really bad days. Keep in mind that not only is the expectant mother in crisis, but she also has additional hormones from being pregnant.
  7. Because you are her main support system, you will need your own separate support system. This can be an extremely draining situation, and there will be times when you are completely overwhelmed and frustrated. It is important that you have your own resources and support independent of her so that you can continue to be a strength and support to her. It’s important to remember that even though you are her anchor, she is not yours.
  8. If you are religious, use that as a resource. You can gather additional strength from journaling, exercise, friendships, or hobbies. Or if that all fails, try a good nap. Remember: This won’t last forever.
  9. Lastly, and most importantly, show unconditional love for her. No matter what decisions she makes, let her know that you love her and will always love her.
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Tiffany Smart

Tiffany Smart is a birth mom of a two-year-old boy and enjoys the benefits of an open adoption. She is currently a Senior in the Social Work Program at Utah State University. When she gets a break from studying, she likes to run, mountain bike with her husband, and play the piano.


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