For many girls, pregnancy seems to be a cure for loneliness. Others believe pregnancy results in maturity and independence. False expectations lead many girls into sexual intercourse.
"I recently had an abortion. I didn't think it was wrong. The counselors at the clinic told me the positive points of abortion, but they never told me the negative, emotional side effects."
This girl, a senior in high school, isn't alone. One out of every ten teenage girls in America becomes pregnant every year - 50,000 under the age of fourteen.
Why Teens Get Pregnant
For many girls, pregnancy seems to be a cure for loneliness. "I'll have someone to love who will love me back." Unfortunately, they never see beyond the happy, clean, dry baby pictured in a magazine. Then, reality hits.
Others believe pregnancy results in maturity and independence. You can quit school (eight out of ten do), get out on your own, and have a regular source of income (welfare). Having a baby means you can be your own boss.
False expectations lead many girls into sexual intercourse. "I thought he'd hate me if I didn't." "But you can't get pregnant the first time." "I thought being pregnant would make him marry me."
In spite of society's efforts, teenagers are often ignorant about sex. Many teens never connect "sexual experimentation" with having babies.
For those and other reasons, over a million of teenage girls will get pregnant this year. Urban, rural, poor or wealthy - the problem isn't limited to any class, race, or community.
How to Help
First of all, accept and love the pregnant teen. She doesn't need isolation from church, friends, or family. Rejection is not a solution. It doesn't help to try to establish guilt. We mustn't make the teen feel unacceptable. Remember, the pregnant teenager is not the only one who has ever sinned.
Second, you can logically help the teen explore her options: adoption, single parenting, or marriage (abortion is not an option). Find out what services are available in the community. Are there clinics, hospitals, or counselors especially trained to help the pregnant teen? What are the alternatives and consequences of each decision?
Be willing to talk about sexuality and pregnancy. She is often confused about contraception, birth, and child raising. Be honest. Talk about the good and the bad. Ignoring the pregnancy, even though the girl has chosen adoption, isn't a solution. She needs to feel your support and your interest. Don't leave her emotionally abandoned.
Recognize the final decision must be made by her. She must live with the consequences of her choice. No one can force a decision and expect the teen to accept it.
Finally, remember that love is action; it means caring for the pregnant teen, and helping her assess the situation and her options. It means work and honest compassion. And it means confronting her with truth and love.