Teenage pregnancy has already been called an epidemic. But the tragic consequences of this problem can best be understood when looking at the impact of pregnancy on a terrified teenage girl. To say the least, she will experience drastic changes in her life that will not only have a big impact on her but also on her family and loved ones.
The realities of teenage motherhood differ greatly from youthful fantasies. When girls find out they are pregnant, they often experience a whirlpool of emotions. Many acknowledge that they felt shocked or confused. Of the general reactions are anger, fear, guilt and denial. Most girls fear the response of their parents to the news and it is, therefore, the first hurdle to be overcome. Denial can be dangerous, as it may result in a girl not getting the necessary medical care.
Regardless of how a young girl initially responds, she will eventually have to make a number of decisions that will have far-reaching consequences for her and her child and include the following:
- Decisions about pregnancy – abortion or continuing pregnancy
- Decisions about the baby – Will she keep the baby, consider adoption or foster care
- Decisions on her education – Does she continue with her school education, is she going to study elsewhere or is she going to go to the labour market
- Should she decide to go to work – what are her options
- Decisions on the biological father – Should he be part of the child’s life, maintenance, etc.
- Decisions about her family/friends – to what extent will she allow them to be a support system for her
Free State Care in Action has trained staff who can assist in handling and processing these emotional issues.