“HOW DO I TELL MOM AND DAD?”
Most of us are embarrassed or scared by the idea of talking to our parents about sex, let alone telling them we are pregnant! You may think that this is an impossible conversation, but not telling them may be harmful to you because you may need their support and advice. It is important that you assess the situation realistically. What are you afraid of? Disappointment? Disapproval? Anger? Violence? While it's common to think your parents will react harshly, this often isn't the case!
If you think that talking to your parents may cause them to react violently then talking to a counselor first might be best. If you think you may be in danger there are resources for you. Remember, even if talking to your parents is a good idea, New York state does not require parental consent for abortion procedures or birth control.
When you do decide to tell them
Setting up the conversation is a good idea. Find a quiet time when you can all talk together. Start by saying what your fears are. “Mom / Dad… I really need to talk to you but I am scared because I don’t know how you will react.” Tell them how much you need their love and support right now even if it is hard for them. “Please don’t be angry. I need you to listen first.”
Get it out…
Sometimes it is best to just say what is happening. “Mom/ Dad, I just found out that I am pregnant and I need to talk to you about it.” Or “I think I might be pregnant and I don’t know what to do.” Being simple and direct leaves no room for misunderstanding or confusion. This is difficult, but it is important for clear communication.
Help your parents learn and understand.
Educate you parents … No matter what their initial reactions may be – they are your parents and they probably want the best for you. It may be that they are unsure of how to talk to you about your pregnancy and your options. At Parkmed Physicians our mission is to support you. This means helping improve your communication with your parents and other support people. We have a webpage dedicated to helping your parents talk to you – and more importantly, to listen to you. We want to help them better understand what you want and need from them at this delicate time. Here is a link that you can send to them for Abortion Support for Parents.
Give them a little time…
Parents have ideas about who their kids are and what their lives are like which may be very different from reality. Hearing you are pregnant can be confusing and upsetting. Tell them – but give them time to take in the information. Try to set aside time for their initial reactions, which may be based on shock, to pass. Realize that words of anger or disappointment might be simply a first reaction. Give them time. “I want to talk to you more about this when we have both had some time to think – can we talk tomorrow?” This will give them a chance to digest the information and hopefully be more prepared to help you.
“I can never tell them – They will be so disappointed!”
Don’t assume you know how your parents will react. Most parents set high expectations for their kids because they want them to have to best and brightest future possible. This does not mean that they expect you to be perfect – or to never have problems. Often, parents are more understanding than you think. After the initial shock wears off, most parents just want to help.
Have a Safety Plan
Most parents first reaction to the news that their child is pregnant will likely be strong and emotional. Most often, this is just initial shock. However, it is important that if you feel that you may be in danger of physical or emotional abuse to have a safety plan in mind before you talk to your parents. Bring an adult that you trust with you to talk with your parents. If your parents drink alcohol or do drugs make sure that you choose a time to talk to them when they will not be engaged in these activities. Have a safe place to go where you could stay if your parents throw you out of the house. Find out what the rules are in your state about parental consent and your access to reproductive healthcare options without their involvement. In New York state, parental consent is not required for abortions, birth control, or Plan B. At ParkmedNYC we can offer reproductive healthcare services and abortion services to minors without parental consent or notification. You will however need an adult to act as an escort – but it can be a friend as long as they are over 18 years old. Make sure you carry your insurance card, your photo ID, and money. If you feel that you are at risk or do not have options because of lack of support or resources please contact us for more resources and information. Parkmed supports you whether you choose to terminate or continue your pregnancy. Above all, we want to protect your health and safety.
“What do they know?”
You may feel like your parents have no idea what life is like for you. It may feel that way, but you have to remember, they were teenagers too and they also know what it is like to have a child. Ask if they have had any experience with unplanned pregnancy or abortion. Hearing their experiences may help you figure out your options and help you make your own decision regarding your pregnancy. And who knows, maybe they have been in the same situation you're in!