Straight Talk Advice

Teen pregnancy means deciding between raising the child, adoption or abortion

Aug 19, 2014

Boy’s girlfriend is pregnant, pushing him away

Dear Straight Talk: My girlfriend since last Christmas just told me she is pregnant. She is 17 and I'm 18. She's been on the pill since she was 16 but maybe forgot to take them some days?? All she does is cry, call me constantly, then push me away. I want to tell her parents, but she forbids it. She won't say what she wants to do, just that, "I have no idea what this is like." I'm leaving for college six hours away and we were planning to go nonexclusive. I'm freaking out, too. This is affecting both of our futures, not just hers. How do I get her to calm down so we can figure something out? —Tony, Santa Rosa, Calif.

Moriah 17, Rutland, Vt. Ask me a question

Is she blood-test sure? So many friends have gone ballistic over missed periods or false urine tests. Even though it's crucial to think fast, stay calm, supportive and demonstrative that you care about HER. Then she will feel safe processing with someone who isn't freaking out about “how much time is left.”

Katherine 17, Redding, Calif. Ask me a question

This is more common than parents realize. No one can understand the stress a teen feels getting this news. It is worst for the girl. Your girlfriend honestly has NO idea what to do and doesn't realize you're stressed, too. Try to be understanding, get her to a doctor, THEN work on telling parents.

Kira 22, Moraga, Calif. Ask me a question

Don't pressure her into a decision or talk about how this is ruining your future. I just finished “To Save a Life”. The main character has a basketball scholarship and like you, was about to leave. Make this about HER. Tell her (and mean it) that you're on her side and will support whatever decision she makes. You will regret forcing something.

Molly 22, Oakland, Calif. Ask me a question

My partner and I went through the experience of terminating an unwanted pregnancy and it was a decision I wouldn't take back in a million years. Please know there is no shame in taking this direction and millions of women have done it.

Katelyn 19, Huntington Beach, Calif. Ask me a question

Stop telling her to tell her parents! It's just making her more afraid. That can wait a bit. Tell her you're there for her and buy her a meal or gift so she believes it. In seeking help, know that Planned Parenthood will suggest the option of abortion so you can keep your current life, whereas places like Horizon Pregnancy Centers will advocate for adoption or teen parent support programs.

Andrew 24, Cloverdale, Calif. Ask me a question

A friend learned recently his girlfriend had an abortion without telling him. He felt completely powerless. Share your values and outcome desires and encourage her to do the same. Above all, you must respect her decision and be supportive no matter what.

Maddie 15, Cotati, Calif. Ask me a question

This IS a lot bigger for her. After she tells you what she might want to do, only then share your thoughts. There are heated opinions about adoption versus abortion, but I have nothing against either. This is your decision to make, not anyone else's.

Rose 23, Ukiah, Calif. Ask me a question

Several friends had kids in high school. What mattered most was having their boyfriend's total support from the beginning, no matter what decision they made — or how erratic they were acting. Go to Planned Parenthood. Everything is confidential and you'll get all the info you need. Just keep showing up unconditionally, including being ready to pay child support.

Dear Tony: Welcome to adulthood. Please absorb the panel's every word — they nail this. Now, my turn: IF your girlfriend decides to keep the child, you're a FATHER, and indescribably important to your child's life. College becomes even more important so you can provide — however, studying locally probably makes more sense. WHY? We now know that a mother's stress is actually toxic and compromises the neurology of both the fetus and young child. You — and both sets of parents — hold the keys to making this young mother either stressed-out or emotionally stable. Should she take the route of motherhood, please do the right thing for your offspring and society by taking fatherhood responsibly.

Editor's Note: I agree with most of the panelists that, ultimately, it is each woman's personal decision on how to handle an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy. I do not judge any woman, of any age, in any time, for her decision, whether that is having the baby and raising him/her, putting baby up for either closed or open adoption, or having an abortion, for I know not what that woman faces in life, nor what she has already faced. From every woman I've spoken to, her decision is enormous, and only made after much soul searching and personal suffering. The more the woman's partner can be supportive of her as she makes her decision, the better for everyone — and more she will potentially be open to include her partner in the decision-making process.

The whole experience is completely daunting for both partners. While the father may feel powerless during the early pregnancy, his role, should the woman decide to raise the child, is enormous. By law, he needs to pay child support until the child is 18. This contribution helps a lot, all on its own, and can make the difference between a life of poverty and one that is sustainable. But this alone won't necessarily make a child grow strong. There is a huge correlation between successful children and those that grow up with a father in their life. Fathers are much more than a paycheck. Check out our column about this from JUL 7, 2010.

The single biggest role a father plays is keeping the mother free from chronic stress during the child's growth in the womb, infancy, and the first seven years of life — things like worrying about unsafe living quarters, how to put food on the table and gas in the car even if she's worked all day, whether she is lovable, whether her partner is faithful, or if she even has a partner. Parents can be very helpful in eliminating chronic stress, too, by being there (whether she has a partner or not) to support her with lodging, food, childcare, warmth, lack of judgment, and opportunities for sustainability.

Humans are arguably one of the most sensitive creatures on the planet. And the most complex. We only act like we're not sensitive out of complex defense mechanisms that we fire up (consciously and unconsciously) to protect and cloak ourselves because we are so sensitive! Our mammalian need for emotional warmth, touch, kindness, regular rhythm, and safety is unmistakable. Babies die without it. Or they don't develop optimally.

When a mother is under chronic stress, her system is flooded with toxic stress hormones which go directly into the fetus. Once baby is born, he or she soaks up Mother's toxic stress and things related to her stress, like an irregular schedule, unhealthy food, being plopped in front of media so baby will "shut down", all of which lead to problems attaching to other humans and a stunting of the part of the brain that controls dopamine and endorphins (among other things), which then leads to an inability to regulate one's own mood, or to reach out to others for help in soothing — which, then, down the road, drives the attraction to drugs, alcohol, pornography, hi-adrenaline sports, materialism, or other addictions in an effort to sooth artificially. We've talked about this a lot lately and I'll refer you to our column of JAN 26, 2011, for a more detailed description.

I'm not exaggerating when I say that our very future depends on boyfriends, husbands, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, etc., making life for a young mother emotionally warm and free of chronic stress so she can raise a warm, emotionally-healthy human being who is attached and warm toward other human beings. —Lauren

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  1. By G.S., age 17, from Santa Ana, CA on 08/20/2014

    It’s totally understandable that she’s freaking out and does not know what to do.  My sister was in a similar situation and her boyfriend who was also about to go off to college abandoned her because he said it was her fault because she told him she was on the pill, and he wasn’t going to let this screw up his life.  At first she was in denial and hoped that she wasn’t really pregnant and wanted to delay telling our parents.  However, we share a room and the signs of pregnancy were becoming more obvious every day when I saw her nude.  It didn’t take too long before she was visibly “showing” even with clothes on, and had no choice but to tell our parents.  The decision was made to terminate the pregnancy, but it would have been easier if she had done it earlier, and things would have been much better all around if her boyfriend had been supportive.  She’s still suffering from the guilt and shame and from the abandonment by her boyfriend.  She’s getting counseling but is still having a very difficult time and I hear her crying in bed in our room many nights.


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    1. By LAUREN, from on 08/22/2014

      Dear G.S.—So sorry for your sister and so glad she is getting counseling. If she continues having a difficult time, tell your parents and urge them to get her a different counselor. There is a lot of difference in quality between counselors, and there are also simply good fits and not so good fits. Also, if there is a way to let your sister know that time really does heal things like this and time also brings people more internal resources to deal with things. Things we go to counselors for in our teens help a lot—and in her case, are essential—and often that same issue, when revisited in one’s twenties, is when we are old enough to really move through it. Thanks for writing.—Love, Lauren

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  2. By T.O., age 16, from Marysville, CA on 08/21/2014

    I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that my older sister is in a similar situation.  Like others I’ve read about in Straight Talk our moms a single parent who can only afford a 2 bedroom apartment so me and my sister have to share a room (I’m a guy).  Like the others, since I’m just her “little brother” she isn’t shy about her nudity in front of me and doesn’t seem to have a clue that it gives me feelings I shouldn’t be having.  I’m no expert, but it really looks to me like she’s starting to look pregnant when she’s naked.  I feel like I have to pretend that I don’t even notice her body when she’s naked so I can’t say anything to her or if I said anything to our mom she’d wonder why I’ve been interested in looking at my sister’s naked body.  In addition to what I’ve seen, her behavior has changed lately.  She seems very upset and depressed and if I come in the room when she’s on her cell, she immediately ends the call and says “I’ll call you back” which she never did before and I often can see that she’s been crying.  I’ve always felt that her boyfriend was a real jerk who might do something like this then desert her, but she thought he was the greatest, so it wouldn’t of done any good for me to try to tell her.  If she is pregnant, she won’t be able to hide it from our mom much longer anyway, so I’m keeping my mouth shut, but I’m still really concerned about her since she’s my sister and I love her and she’s always been really good to me.


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    1. By LAUREN, from on 08/22/2014

      Dear T.O.: What a tough situation. First off, even if you DID have a privacy screen, which I highly recommend and can be accomplished by tacking a sheet to the ceiling, the fact is, she is behaving differently and acting depressed and secretive. These are the warning signs of being at-risk for SOMETHING. And that something could be worse than being pregnant if she feels desperate enough. She may be getting things under control, thus the phone calls, or she may not, it’s hard to say.

      If your mom is the type to be supportive rather than further browbeat you when your down, I recommend you tell your mom in confidence about your concerns that something bad is happening to your sister and you think she might be pregnant (you don’t have to mention seeing her belly… this could be something you’ve inferred from hearing snippets of conversations) and work out a signal so when you say a certain word or phrase (doing so when your sister is undressed), your mom will come in on her own and see for herself. Many teens use such a signal to get their parents to enter a room at a certain time. In fact, a teen reader shared the idea on this site.

      Remember, you’re doing this out of love and concern, not trying to get her in trouble…. make sure to tell your mom that. Let us know how things go.—Love, Lauren

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  3. By Sandy, age 17, from Toledo, OH on 08/22/2014

    In both cases, I think there’s a good chance that your sisters wanted you to tell your parents.  Especially in T.O.‘s case, it’s hard to believe that a girl would let her teenage brother see her this way if she didn’t want him to say something.  My brother and I are close, but I can’t even imagine letting him see me nude at our ages, and I certainly wouldn’t want to see him!  Fortunately, we do not have to share a room.

    I was in a similar situation with my stepsister with whom I share a room on visitations.  We were never shy about undressing in front of each other, but we didn’t go out of our way to be naked in front of each other, either.  However, she started to be very casual about going naked in the bedroom when I was there, and at the same time I noticed signs of pregnancy when I saw her nude.  I decided to mind my own business and act like I hadn’t noticed anything.  Then one night her mom happened to come in the room and couldn’t help but notice and she was forced to deal with it and ended up choosing putting the baby up for adoption.  My stepsister later told me that she made sure that I saw the signs of pregnancy hoping I would tell her mom because she was afraid to tell her.  Knowing what I do now I would have told, but unless you are psychic, how do you really know if someone wants you to tell or whether you should mind your own business?


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  4. By M.L., age 16, from Carmichael, CA on 08/23/2014

    You can’t always tell that somebody’s pregnant just because they look fat in certain places when their naked.  Our mom left our dad for another man who wanted nothing to do with me and my sister, so our mom let our dad have custody of us and our mom and her new husband moved out of town and we hardly ever see her.  Because of this, my older sister decided that she needed to by like a mom to me.  She really cares about me, and I need her to talk to about female issues since I no longer have my mom for all practical purposes.  However, she is also very bossy and domineering just like a mom can be.  She didn’t like my boyfriend and was pressuring me to break up with him.  We share a room and just because I had gained weight and was looking fatter in certain places when I was naked, she decided that I was pregnant.  I knew that I wasn’t, because my boyfriend and I weren’t even having sex.  However, she demanded that I prove it to her or she would go to our dad and tell him that she thought I was pregnant because she had seen the “evidence” and I knew he would have believed her and he would have gone ballistic.  So I had no choice but to do a home pregnancy test for her.  And she insisted on watching me pee into the cup and did the rest of the test herself so that I couldn’t cheat.  Even though we’re sisters and have never had a problem sharing the bathroom whey we’re taking a pee, I still found it humiliating and embarrassing to have her stand there and watch me do it into a cup.  The test was negative as I knew it would be, and she said she was sorry she had to put me through it, but she had to make sure since she feels “responsible” for me. 

    My point is that you shouldn’t just assume someone’s pregnant just because she’s gained some weight and has a boyfriend you don’t like.


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  5. By Karen Hart, age 52, from Santa Rosa, CA on 08/24/2014

    Stories like this continue to sadden me. The U.S. has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the industrialized world. Why? Because sex education in our schools (if it’s even addressed) continues to be centered on abstinence-only education. We educate our children about the perils of drugs, and drinking and driving; the DMV requires formal education before teens can get behind the wheel of a car. However, we fail to properly educate our young adults about the human body, sexuality and how to prevent pregnancy and use birth control properly.

    As a mother of two sons, now 20 and 22, I started providing frank information about sex as soon as they asked where babies came from. (That was when they were 8 and 10 years old.) I wanted to make sure there was no mystery to human sexuality, birth control methods, and what to do. I also talked to them about the perils of casual sex.

    I urge parents to A.) take charge and educate your children at home. Experts advise having “the talk” as soon as children have questions. B.) Meanwhile, adults everywhere should band together and urge our school system to provide comprehensive sex education. Abstinence is still the best way to prevent pregnancy, but teenagers do NOT ask their parents for permission to have sex so lets make sure they know how to prevent pregnancy. So make sure when they make the decision to have sex, they are informed and know what to do.

    I believe schools should leave the medical details of sex and how to prevent pregnancy to medical professionals. Then certainly, a counselor or teacher can talk to students about the problems of having casual sex and how to talk about birth control and sexually transmitted diseases with their partner. Young adults need frank, open and honest information about sex before they encounter their first serious relationship.

    To open the lines of communication, my book “Butterflies in May” (by Karen Hart) offers young adults medically accurate information and addresses the dilemma of facing an unplanned pregnancy. Another excellent book for young children is titled “Where did I come from?” and for children age 12 and up, check out the book “It’s Perfectly Normal.”

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  6. By Cindy, age 17, from Santa Rosa, CA on 08/24/2014

    I went through something similar with my mom last year, and I’m still angry and resentful about it.  She also didn’t like my boyfriend and was sure we must be having sex since we were together so much.  When I gained a little weight, she decided I must be pregnant and made me strip so that she could see.  Since she’s my mom, I’ve never had a problem with her seeing me naked so I stripped for her without complaining thinking it would prove to her that I wasn’t pregnant.  However, she said she “couldn’t be sure,”  so she made me do a “pee test” while she watched.  She said there was no reason to be embarrassed, since she changed my diapers and toilet trained me.  Even so, it WAS very embarrassing.  The test proved that I wasn’t pregnant as I knew it would.  She also decided that my boyfriend “looked” like a drug user, so she also “pee tested” me for drugs (while she watched again, of course).  Again, I was clean.  She hasn’t bothered me since.  However, my anger and resentment is still with me, and I don’t know if it will ever go away.


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    1. By A.B., age 16, from Colfax, CA on 08/24/2014

      My mom did the same thing to me.  I’m still angry and our relationship has never been the same.  My sister who I share a room with and sees me nude told her that I didn’t look the least bit pregnant but that wasn’t good enough for her and she also both made me strip for her and do the pee test while she stood there and stared at me doing it.  She also used the “I’m your mother who changed your diapers” line.  I don’t care, and really resent being put through this when I had done nothing wrong.  I think that many parents are way too paranoid these days about both sex and drugs, and from what I’ve read in Straight Talk, I’m not the only one.  I will never treat my kids this way unless I have a valid reason to believe that they’ve done something wrong!


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  7. By Nancy, age 78, from Windsor, CA on 08/24/2014

    Dear Loren, As a Great-grandmother giving advice to Teens who are having sex. Even if the girl is “on the pill”, boys should be smart and use a Condom as well.  Good grief, it isn’t that big of a deal.  I feel sorry for the young teens in this weeks paper.  Pregnancy is a true dilemma for the two of them.  Sometimes dreams can be lost forever over a moment of passion that most of these kids don’t even understand.  Passion for the moment vs. passion for a lifetime. Teens need to learn to protect themselves in as many ways as they can.  Babies raising “babies” ends up being an 18 year commitment!

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  8. By Pipper, age 24, from Mount Stree, Farwell, Michigan on 10/16/2014

    When I acquired a little weight, she chose I need to be expecting as well as made me strip so that she can view. The examination showed that I had not been expecting as I recognized it would certainly. She additionally made a decision that my guy “looked” like a medicine customer, so she additionally “pee checked” me for medicines (while she viewed once more, of program).

    Reply to this comment

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