Dr. Val Farmer
Rural Mental Health & Family Relationships

Teen Pregnancy: You Don't Need It

November 29, 2004

A pregnancy can happen from a first intercourse. No one is immune from the laws of nature. Did you know that more than 300 million sperm are released during intercourse? With those kinds of odds, you can see how a pregnancy might happen. And it does.

The consequences of teen pregnancy are dramatic and profound. The pregnant girl and her parents and the potential father and his parents face a decision regarding marriage, adoption placement, abortion, or keeping the child.

Each choice dramatically alters the future, especially for the young woman herself. Each choice has pain and loss connected with it. There is no easy choice. Here are some questions that young women in this position ask themselves.

Keeping the child. Is this really my idea or is it my parent's? Do I keep the child and limit my lifestyle, education and opportunities? Am I ready to give up my youth and my friends and take on adult roles and responsibilities? What does this do to my dreams?

Am I ready to assume the responsibilities of motherhood? Am I ready to put a child's needs ahead of my own on a 24 hour-a-day basis?

How will I learn to be on my own when I am forced to depend on my parents? Who will raise the baby? My mother or myself? Will my mother treat me like an adult and respect my mothering? If I go to work, who will take care of the baby?

How do I deal with the father? What rights does he have? How will I feel about him if he chooses to stay involved with our child's life? When I marry someday, how will my future husband be as a stepfather? Will he love and accept my child? Could he be abusive? What kinds of problems will this cause between us?

"I was mad at my mom because she wanted me to feel sorry for her - like it was worse on her than on me."

Giving up the baby. Is this really my idea or is it my parents? Can I live with the memory of my child? What is my child like? What is my child doing now? What does he or she look like? When I am older, married and settled, how will I feel then?

"I feel angry at the adoptive parents. They didn't have to go through anything and they got my baby. I had to ruin my body, my social life, my schooling, etc., and what do I have to show for it? Nothing. (Later - at self) "I can't believe I gave my baby away. I'm so angry at myself for doing that. I could have raised her."

"I was mad at people at school. They thought I was a mean, terrible witch for giving my baby away."

"When my brother and I were fighting he said, `I may be a bum, but I'd never give my baby up for adoption - and mom and dad would never give any of us away.'"

"I hate seeing happy families with babies. It makes me mad. All I have to show for my pregnancy is a bunch of stretch marks."

"I just want to be pregnant again. I miss the baby so much. I cry myself to sleep every night."

"I'll never be the same again." "I'll do anything to get my baby back. She's the only thing in life that can make me happy."

"Nothing seems fun anymore. I don't want to do anything even though I have a lot of time. I don't want to date. Dating is no fun anymore. I felt like I had to grow up too fast."

Getting married. Fewer than 20 percent of the couples who conceive before marriage continue to have an ongoing relationship. If you do marry, your odds of getting divorced are three times as great as if you were to marry in your 20s.

Is my boyfriend mature enough to have an unselfish give-and-take communication and to work through problems? Is he ready to assume the financial, legal and moral responsibilities of fatherhood? What kind of a father will he be?

Do I really want to marry him? Would I marry him anyway? How would we get by? Is this really my idea or is it my parents?

Having an abortion. Is this really my idea? How do I feel about this? Is it murder? Can I live with the decision? Will I be able to deal with the guilt and remorse? What if I am not able to have children? How will I feel then? Who do I talk to if I am feeling bad?

Can you see the heartache and the dilemma? Like the comments quoted from young women who gave up their child, equally sad and tragic feelings could be quoted by those who experience the silent anguish of abortion.

A pregnancy during your teenage years thrusts you into a hard reality. There are tough decisions to make and gut-wrenching grief and suffering to go through. You don't want it! You don't need it!