“Pregnant at 16, my dad has anger issues”

posted in: Advice, My Story | 0

Question originally from our Tumblr:

Anonymous asked: I just found out I was pregnant 3 days ago. I’m 16 and I turn 17 in December. I’m honestly really happy and excited! (: But, I live with just my dad and he has really bad anger issues. He gets really upset when I just ask him to take me to the doctors.. How am I supposed to tell him this?

Okay, a couple of things.

1. I’m assuming you’ve decided to raise the child yourself. Feeling happy & secure in your decision is a good thing. However, it’s only the first step – your success as a parent, a good outcome for both you and baby depends on more than that. For both you and baby, you need to be REALISTIC and practical. Depending on where you live, abortion may still be an option if you can’t find your way through the advice I’m about to give you. Adoption is also an option. At this stage, don’t close your mind to your other options. An open mind and acceptance of the reality of YOUR particular family situation is so important right now.

2. I’m also assuming you’re going to continue living with your dad after baby is born, and will need emotional and at least some financial support from him. You are going to NEED him. If you’re NOT going to live with him, then my advice would be different. Let’s go with the first assumption for now.

If he has “really bad anger issues” – this is a huge red flag for me. You don’t say whether this escalates to the point of emotional or physical abuse – but either way it’s a problem. You will be bringing a child into a household where anger and a strained relationship is already a problem. Do you really want that for your child? Has it been easy for YOU? You have struggled with a father who does not treat you in the way that you would like to be treated. Now, you’d knowingly be bringing a child into that same situation. I’d urge you to think long and hard about that.

Obviously, you know your dad best. Every parent is going to be angry, disappointed, sad, scared when their daughter tells them they’re pregnant. Most parents get over that initial anger (provided the mom-to-be shows signs of managing the situation correctly). Relations between parents and daughter might be difficult for a while, but often come right eventually, if everybody works at it. However – in a family where things are already bad, often this doesn’t happen. It makes the situation worse and then everyone suffers, including baby.

I speak to pregnant teens every day and many of them have valid reasons to believe that their parents would beat them or kick them out of the house because of their pregnancy. Others will stay because they have no choice. Still others expect the worst from their parents and are surprised that it wasn’t as bad as they expected.

Only you can know if your dad is likely to get over his initial anger and adjust to this new family, or not.

So being practical is the most important. If he does kick you out, or if you decide it’s best not to live with him, where will you go? How will you support yourself? Will you be able to finish school (if you’re still at school now). Will you be able to cope by yourself, if necessary?
You need those answers, or at least the beginnings of those answers, BEFORE you speak to your father.

Ultimately, you want a better life for your child than you had, right?

Can you give a child that, in your current situation, WITH your father?

Again, only you can answer that.

When you’re ready to speak to him (and don’t put it off for too long) – honesty is 100% the best policy. Just say it. Spit it out. There is never a “best time” for this conversation. There is no easy way to do it, believe me. You might want to consider having another adult you can trust with you when you speak to him.

Expect it to be hard. Expect him to be angry. Expect him to say things he perhaps doesn’t mean. Don’t get angry back. This is the worst bit and you have to let him express his feelings. Let him know that you have thought this through 100%, you understand what it entails, emotionally, financially, for your education. Let him know you’re not being impulsive or romantic or naive.

Let him know you have a plan, and when he is ready to hear it, you can share it with him. Let him know that you are also scared and that you need him. Tell him you understand that he’s angry and upset, and that’s okay.

You need to have a plan in place for if things escalate beyond “normal” levels of anger. Somewhere else you can go, a friend or relative, at least for a while.

I know you want me to give you an easy script to follow. There isn’t one. Everybody’s situation is different.

Your problem is bigger than your pregnancy, right now. It’s a difficult relationship with a father who perhaps is not doing his best for you.
Parenting at any age (but especially as a teen) is difficult enough, even when you have the support of your family. If you don’t have that support, it’s 1000 times more difficult.

I’m not going to tell you to make a different choice. But I do urge you to think hard about the things I’ve said. No matter what you choose, it’s not going to be easy.

Can it be done? Of course it can. But it can only be done well – for you and baby – if you’re 100% realistic and ready for any outcome.

You’ll be okay – but only you can make sure that you are.

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