If your daughter is facing a decision about an unintended pregnancy, you are probably very worried about her. As she considers parenthood, abortion, or adoption, you may be having strong feelings. If you are also in crisis, ask for help to cope with this unexpected shock. We hope the following information and advice will be helpful to you.
Listening to Your Daughter
The single most important thing you can do is to listen to what your daughter says about how she feels. It is also very important that your daughter feels comfortable making the decision and that she feels that she is the primary decision-maker. Sometimes this means that you need to step back and let her think this through. By all means, tell her what you think, and how her decision will affect you, but please understand that this truly must be her decision.
Most women feel relieved after making their decision, but there may be some other feelings like sadness, loss, anger, or guilt. Studies show that women who have someone to talk to about their feelings will recover well.
Some Signs She May Be Having Difficulty Coping
- loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
- not being able to sleep or sleeping all the time
- unable to concentrate, suddenly doing poorly in school
- crying a lot
- cutting herself off from friends, activities, staying in her room more than usual
- not caring about how she looks or what she wears
- excessive anger or irritability hinting about suicide or talking about death
If you see any of these signs, talk to her about the changes you are seeing and contact a mental health agency or doctor immediately.
There are many reasons a woman may have a difficult time coping. Some include:
- A boyfriend who has left her
- A parent who won't let her see the boyfriend
- If she has been emotionally or physically abused
- If there has been a recent death
- If she has chosen abortion and her religion says abortion is morally wrong
- If she blames someone else
- If the pregnancy was wanted
Post abortion reactions: When women don't have these situations in their lives, they usually cope very well after an abortion, just as they would after any other well thought-out decision. So don't be surprised if she seems fine. But when there are complicating factors, you may notice that she wants to talk about it over and over. Repetition can be a good thing, so be patient and listen again and again. But, if several weeks or months go by, or she expresses regret about her decision, please help her get some counseling.
Postpartum reactions: Depression after a birth is not uncommon and lack of support from partner or family can make that worse. If she is unable to take care of the baby or herself or cope with the changes in her life, encourage her to talk to her doctor, nurse midwife, or clinic counselor.
Post adoption reactions: It is quite common for women to be sad or depressed after giving up a child to adoptive parents. Attend to her closely and encourage her to talk to her adoption counselor or other professional counselor.
How are you doing?
Your feelings are important too. Here are some common ones:
Disappointed: You thought she knew better. Try to remember a time when you disappointed your parents and what you needed from them then. Tell her she is still your daughter and you love her.
Sad: Your sadness is a sign of your concern. Frequently, this experience can help her "grow up" and understand life a little more maturely.
Angry: You have the right to feel anger and it may be helpful for you to find another adult to talk to. Name-calling and criticism don't prevent future mistakes.
Rejected: Your daughter may have made a different choice than you would have, and she may have different ideas of morality, but she hasn't rejected you. She is just making a choice that is best for her at this time in her life.
Hurt and betrayed: A trust has been broken and it'll take time to mend it. Continue to talk, give it the time and effort needed. Don't give up on her.
Protective. No parent can know what their kids are doing 24 hours a day. If you shelter her, you will only cripple her ability to make good choices for her life.
Guilty or ashamed about abortion: You may find that you are re-evaluating your beliefs about abortion. If you feel abortion is wrong and your daughter is making this choice, you need to find peace and forgiveness. You may want to talk to a friend or religious adviser.
Failure: No parent can be totally responsible for their children's behavior-good or bad. You can only teach and guide. Sometimes, experience is the best teacher.
Confusion and defeat: You did nothing wrong, you did your best. Now you can try and help her. She may be feeling foolish and sorry that she never followed your advice earlier.
This section adapted from: "After Her Abortion" for Parents, Male Partners and Friends," by Anne Baker, The Hope Clinic for Women, Granite City, IL. Also from "Pregnant? Need Help? Pregnancy Options Workbook," developed by Peg Johnston, Director, Southern Tier Women's Services.
Our staff consists of board eligible/ board certified licensed gynecologists, nurses and nurse practitioners, technicians and counselors. Phone counselors are on hand daily to make an appointment for an abortion or answer your questions. Just call and we'll be glad to help. We at ARHC are committed to offering excellent health care with emphasis on each individual's particular needs and life style. All services are provided at an affordable cost with dignity and confidentiality. For those who qualify, funding may be available.
Please use the links to the left or go to our Contact Us page to obtain more information.