Jim Daly, author and President of the Christian organization Focus On The Family, recently shared some insight on how parents should respond to their teenage daughter facing an unplanned pregnancy.
"If you've ever had a teen daughter shock you with the announcement, "I'm pregnant,"...you probably felt like your world was spinning, and the floor had dropped out from beneath you," Daly wrote in a blog post.
However, while a shocked reaction is understandable, many parents take it a step further, often erupting in anger--or even detach emotionally from their daughter entirely.
"[It's] so crucial for parents to offer a sympathetic response," Daly writes. "Obviously, it's a highly emotional time for everyone involved, filled with uncertainty and a host of legitimate concerns. Mom and dad may struggle with how to support their daughter when they're heartbroken and confused, too.
Instead of focusing on your disappointment, the Focus On The Family President encourages parents to focus on their daughter's well-being.
"She's probably scared and needs you to draw close to her now more than ever. It's your strength that'll help her get through this frightening experience and make good choices moving forward," he writes.
Amy Ford, President and co-founder of Embrace Grace Ministries, a non-profit organization which provides emotional, practical and spiritual support for single, young women who find themselves in an unintended pregnancy, encourages parents who are struggling with their own dizzying emotions to get counsel before talking to their daughters.
"When girls choose life, they should be honored for doing so," she said in a Focus on the Family feature titled Hope for Women Facing An Unplanned Pregnancy. "It's important for parents to say, 'We still love you,' and 'life will still go on--you can still pursue your dreams. Everything will be okay.' But before you react, try to get counsel first. Don't say something that they have to hold onto forever because they're already so terrified about what your reaction will be."
According to research conducted by the Guttmacher Institute, about half (51%) of the 6.6 million pregnancies in the United States each year (3.4 million) are unintended. Additionally, by age 45, more than half of all American women will have experienced an unintended pregnancy, and three in 10 will have had an abortion.
"This is a pro-life issue," Daly emphasizes. "We want to recognize and celebrate the sanctity of human life and we should be the first to place these girls at the top of the list."