It is important for a teen mom to understand how to identify and implement right choices in her life.
The scene was all-too-familiar: a terrified, pregnant fourteen-year-old sobbing, "I'm so dirty, I'm so dirty." Already, the guilt was overwhelming. Unequipped to handle the reality of impending motherhood, this child is forced into the world of premature adulthood. She's the quintessential mismatch: a child carrying a child.
Counselors in schools and pregnancy centers are faced with this scene of sadness over and over. When a teen discovers she is pregnant, her first reactions are usually terror, fear, and a feeling of being overwhelmed. How could this happen? We used a condom. A school counselor, having encountered this scenario many times, said, "I have had numerous unusual situations that demonstrate how uneducated sexually active teens are about these issues. I have had many students who became pregnant as a result of their first sexual encounter. Several became pregnant despite using condoms, and at least two became pregnant even though penetration did not take place."
For a pregnant teen, a growing tummy is not an exciting experience. Usually by the fourth or fifth month, denial and secrecy are no longer options. The baby continues to grow and begins to move. Desperation forces the teen mother-to-be to seek help.
One counselor said, "When counseling pregnant teenagers for the first time, I am often struck by their tenderness. Seldom do I have to dig for 'the reality line.' They are emotionally bare. Most need immediate empathy, hugs, reassurance, and a promise of confidentiality. Tears come easily. Most feel a measure of guilt and shame that is difficult for them to verbalize."
A young girl may come to a counselor before going to anyone else, even her parents. Empathize. "Empathy is your pain in my heart," someone said. Love unconditionally, without judging the act that created the problem. The girls are aware of what brought them to this place without having it pointed out. They need someone to listen without judging.
Listen to what she says and note what she doesn't say. Comforting, listening, and supporting someone who has fallen isn't condoning the sin. God listens and supports. He sent the Holy Spirit as our Comforter, yet God neither condones our sin, nor does He withdraw from us when we blow it. He comes alongside, and we must do the same.
"COMING ALONGSIDE" INCLUDES:
Being willing to go the distance with the pregnant teen
Being willing to sit with her while she tells her parents
Helping her find a place to live if necessary
Providing her with information on how to finish her education
Helping her as she answers the questions: Should I get married? How do I tell the father of the baby?
Seeing to it that she gets proper medical attention, vitamins, etc.
Offering to be a labor coach
Explaining the benefits of a maternity home (taking prenatal health and nutrition classes; taking birthing classes; learning decision-making skills, budgeting skills, parenting skills, etc.) or offering your own home in some cases
Discussing whether to keep the baby or release the baby for adoption
Discussing the reasons not to have an abortion
This is an opportune time to be "Jesus" to a teen in need. They often ask questions like: Will God forgive me? Will my parents forgive me? You might ask if anyone has ever forgiven her before. One teen told me, "Yes, my grandmother forgave me when I wrecked her car." This reminder of a past forgiveness gives hope and can lead to an explanation of what it means to be forgiven by God. Jesus says in I John 1:9: "If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Forgiveness does not erase the pregnancy or the consequences, but it does begin the process of healing. Forgiveness must be given and received.
Life will never be the same, and the teen must come to understand that this baby is a consequence of her wrong choices. It is important for her to understand how to identify and implement right choices in her life. Rarely is this possible without someone else's caring enough to reach into this teen's life with unconditional love. Ideally, the church, the home, and the community will work as a team, not to rescue the teen from facing her responsibilities, but as allies, readying her for the demands of the future. There are two lives at stake, each with an eternal soul.
Ten years ago Laura Baker became involved in a training class for women involved in ministry that included a Bible study for those suffering from post-abortion trauma. This experience lead to the development of PRASSO Ministries, a discipleship program aimed at helping hurting men and women. Laura can be reached at (864) 244-2994 or 2718-B Wade Hampton Blvd., Greenville, SC 29615.