With her children's ages spanning 22 years, LongTimeMother has 40 years experience in parenting - including home schooling and foster care.
Pregnant and alone
Let's discuss unplanned pregnancies and their effects on the people involved, particularly when the parents are young.
Of course there's the young mother-to-be, perhaps still a child herself, and the soon-to-be father faced with unexpected responsibilities. But there's also their parents (or to be more precise, the grandparents of the baby) whose lives will also be thrown into turmoil.
How each individual responds to the unexpected news of a pregnancy will have lasting effects on their future relationship with the baby, and with each other. It is therefore worthy of considerable thought.
A Pregnant Girl's Dilemma
Any unplanned pregnancy comes with a myriad of problems and issues to address. But in the case of Camile, who turned to strangers on the internet for advice when she became pregnant, the situation is even more troubled and complex.
Camile offered the following key points when explaining her dilemma: -
- Her boyfriend of one year became engaged to an ex-girlfriend without telling her. (One month ago.)
- He says he is only engaged because of pressure from his family.
- He claims his fiancée knows about Camile. (Although Camile's not convinced that's true.)
- Camile is pregnant to him.
- The (former) boyfriend still visits, claims he loves her, and says he will be there throughout the pregnancy and for his child.
Camile didn't say how old she is, how old the boyfriend is, or how advanced her pregnancy is when she posted her plea for help. Her photograph, however, shows a bright-eyed, fresh-faced young woman who could easily be a student or not long out of school.
Young and Pregnant
Camile, I am guessing that you are not in a position (financially or emotionally) to cope with your pregnancy and a baby all by yourself.
Abortion is an option in many parts of the world, but it is only available in the very early stages of pregnancy and was not raised by you in your question. I am assuming that you consider the birth of your baby to be inevitable.
Given the circumstances you outlined, it sounds like you are on a path to becoming a single mother. Many single mothers with supportive partners and families successfully raise children. Being married is not a prerequisite to successful parenting, but an unmarried mother without a support network is likely to have a much more difficult time than many other mothers.
Your situation will become more difficult and complicated the longer you leave it. You have to make a decision now. Good on you for asking us here if you don't have anyone else to turn to for advice.
Here's what I think you should do.
1) Tell your Parents you are Pregnant.
I understand that pregnancy can be the great unknown.
A girl or young woman who has not watched the growth of a baby to birth (perhaps an older sister or close family member) has no real concept of how long pregnancy takes, how big a belly grows, how important her diet will be to the future health of her child, and the importance of getting medical advice early in her pregnancy.
I was that young woman in the late 1970s, pregnant with my first child - unmarried and lacking support from the baby's father.
Tell your parents you are pregnant.
They are going to find out sooner or later. It is always best for you to be the one to give your parents the news, no matter how angry or disappointed you think they'll be. Don't wait until word spreads and they hear the news of their daughter's pregnancy from someone else, and don't think that you can hide it from them.
Tell your parents and ask them for help.
2) Make sure his parents know you are pregnant.
If the parents of your baby's father are the ones who are preventing him from being with you, they need to know you have been together for a year and you are now pregnant.
I doubt they would want their son to be so irresponsible as to leave a woman pregnant with his child without support. Of course they might suspect you deliberately fell pregnant to 'trap' him, and be suspicious and unfriendly when first presented with the news, but if his parents have the power to tell their son what to do - and marry another woman instead of the woman he loves - they need to have the cards laid on the table.
I don't think that you should be the one to tell them - especially if you don't already know them - and I am not convinced their son will be man enough to break the news without serious encouragement.
I believe the best way to ensure the paternal grandparents are aware of your pregnancy would be for you to tell your parents, then ask your parents to meet with the young man. (You can surprise him with this meeting if you think he will avoid it.)
Have your parents tell him he should talk with his folks the day of the meeting - because your parents will be contacting his parents the next day. Give him a deadline that he simply must meet.
Tell your parents you need their help to sort things out and make things work. But move quickly, Camille. You will look like the home wrecker if you wait until he is married.
It will become more difficult to actively involve the other grandparents and gain their support if you wait until they have planned a wedding, married off their son and begun anticipating grandchildren from his new wife.
Babies need love
Encouraging Grandparents to be Supportive During Your Pregnancy
There's a very simple way to encourage your parents (and the baby's father's parents) to be supportive of you during your pregnancy and beyond.
Remind them that your baby will grow into a child, and then a teenager, and then an adult. During its lifetime, your child will ask a lot of questions about your pregnancy and his/her father, and his/her grandparents. Tell them that you are going to answer those questions honestly.
"I want your grandchild to love and respect you, so now is the time to start being supportive. I'm not going to lie to my child about what happens from here on. You're either going to be a supportive grandparent, or a person who didn't care and just made life more difficult."
In 2014 it would be nice to think we'd lost the stigma associated with being an unmarried mother. Sadly, that's not always the case. While many defacto couples have children who are actively embraced by their extended families, a lot of unmarried mothers still come under pressure from various groups within communities.
For Camile and other women who are single and pregnant, I offer this piece of advice ... Don't lose confidence in your own ability, your own potential or your own worth. Becoming an unmarried mother brings challenges, but many of us have faced and overcome those challenges. You can too.
I distinctly recall the father of a friend who lectured me (in the 70s remember, when unmarried mothers who kept their babies were rare), and insisted his daughter was no longer to be my friend because I was pregnant and obviously had loose morals. We were young adults, but he was very controlling and his daughter was his princess.
To my friend's great relief, I resisted the temptation to tell him his daughter had been pregnant before me - but had an abortion. Until the day he died, I never went back to have that debate about 'morals' that I had in my head.
My friend went behind his back to stay in contact with me. And, to my great surprise, four lovely young men offered to marry me to protect me from the stigma of being an unmarried mother. I didn't accept, but what a wonderful gesture. I learned who my real friends were. :)
The biggest surprise for me in those days was the number of elderly women and other unexpected supporters who encouraged me and complimented me on becoming a responsible mother.
Support comes from the most unexpected places.
A DNA test will prove your boyfriend is the father.
Remember, DNA tests have been invented. If you are certain your (former) boyfriend is the father, you'll be able to prove it if he or his parents try to suggest the baby is not his.
Whether or not you stay together as a couple, you need to be able to rely on him to provide financial support, and hopefully long-term emotional support for both you and your child.
What about the future with your baby's father?
It is hard to anticipate the likely outcome of a relationship between Camile and her baby's father. Perhaps, if his parents step back and encourage their son to step up and be a man, there could be a happy ending. I have lived long enough to see successful relationships blossom from the debris of early failure.
However if his parents are just being used as an excuse, and the young man is incapable of making a commitment (not necessarily meaning marriage, but a commitment to the relationship and his new family), then Camile would do well to look for another man worthy of her love.
But with the birth of a baby, there will always be a relationship with her ex. Perhaps not the type a young woman dreams of with a man she once loved - but a future relationship that will be very important to her child.
A child's self esteem is linked to the child's perception of their father. The love between parents may end, but that's no excuse for allowing a child to feel abandoned. Many parents manage to develop and nurture mutual respect in the interests of their child.
It takes effort, and of course there is a period of grieving for what might have been ... but one of the key responsibilities of every parent is to shift their focus to the child. You don't have to stay partnered with your child's other parent, but you really should stay civil and pleasant and work hard to help your off-spring feel good about both their mother and their dad.
© 2014 LongTimeMother
Jean Bakula from New Jersey on February 18, 2015:
Thank you for sharing your story. Being around the same age as you, I knew many girls who thought they were in love and would get married, had sex, and got pregnant, only to find the BF wanted nothing to do with her. Roe V Wade was legal, and most of them had abortions.
So many times the boy gets a pass, and the girl's life and options are forever changed. It's good if her parents will be supportive, but they may not be, either way. My one friend, who had the child, married the boy and found he was abusive. I walked into her house one day when she was pregnant with their second child, and he was kicking her in the stomach. My Dad was a Sheriff's Officer, and promptly had her husband arrested for a few days for assault and battery.
And then our ever ultra conservative government wants to outlaw birth control and abortion. Like young people are going to stop having sex; it's been going on since the beginning of time. But once the children are born, they don't want to help supply a young Mother with a newborn formula, diapers, or any kind of public assistance. How can she work if there is no day care? They want to cut Head Start, so young children have less education.
I don't understand why more birth control methods for men aren't being developed, I'd like to see what they would do if suddenly their whole life plan was changed. And they wouldn't be able to blame the girl for getting them pregnant (although both bear the responsibility, the woman always gets the worst of the deal--I don't mean the child, of course), just all the problems and responsibility.
Nicolas Ray from Stamford, CT on February 01, 2015:
I will have to agree with GetitScene that if the father is reluctant to help and be part of the child's life, then don't force the issue, just be a great single parent. What matters at the end is the love you and your family give to the child. Emotional article. Thanks
Dale Anderson from The High Seas on January 01, 2015:
Tough situation. Having said that, I have several relatives whos lives were ruined by the father staying around. The kids probably would have been better off without him too.
Greenlily from Philippines on April 23, 2014:
So sad that unwed mothers are common nowadays. As a parent I would by all means protect my daughter from being into this kind of situation.
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on April 14, 2014:
Hi FlourishAnyway. It concerned me that most of the feedback she received advised her to dump the boyfriend, without any reference to what to do about the baby. Makes perfectly good sense to just dump a boyfriend and move on, but that's not so easy when it becomes 'just dump the father of your baby' and move on.
Thanks for your comment. By writing stories based on our own experience, hopefully others can gain something that helps. :)
FlourishAnyway from USA on April 08, 2014:
LongTimeMother, You are very caring to share both your advice and your story. I am sure that this young lady is scared during this uncertain time. I think your guidance and encouragement here will help her.