Telling Your Parents You’re Pregnant

You’re young, single, faced with an unplanned pregnancy – and don’t know how to tell your parents. Dealing with an unplanned pregnancy is tough no matter how old you are.


And when you’re young, it can be really rough going without the understanding and help of your parents. But to give that understanding and help, your parents first need to know what’s going on. We can’t tell you how to tell them. We don’t know what they’re like, and we can’t say to do this or do that and everyone will be okay. But we will say a few things that might make it easier for you to talk to them. We should add that most of this information also goes for guys who need to tell their parents that their girlfriend is pregnant.

Should you even tell your parents that you’re pregnant? “Yes,” for several reasons. First of all, most parents really care about what happens to their children. Sure, many teens have problems with their parents. Some of these problems are serious and some are not so serious. Sometimes you have problems once in a while, sometimes it seems like you’re constantly fighting with your folks.

The same goes for most teens – they have problems with their kids, too. All of this is pretty natural. But when it comes down to it, most parents do care about what happens to their children. If you really don’t believe this about your parents there’s nothing we can say to convince you otherwise. But in all fairness to them, you’d probably have to agree that your parents are concerned about you.

Another reason for letting your parents know about your pregnancy is that until you turn 18, they are financially, physically, morally and legally responsible for you, pregnant or not.

We’ve been talking about why your parents should know, or have the right to know. We don’t have to tell you that if you’re pregnant and don’t know what to do about it, you’re going through a very rough time right now. You know that better than anyone else. You probably have a lot of questions and no answers about your pregnancy. You’re faced with making what will probably be the toughest decision you’ll ever have to make in your life.

If you haven’t already, your soon going to have to make up your mind about what to do. You shouldn’t have to cope with your situation all by yourself.

At this time, you need all the help and support you can get. And no matter what they might say or so at first, most parents will eventually come around and give you what help and support they can.

Notice that we just said “No matter what they might say or do at first”—and we said that for a very good reason. When you first tell your parents about your pregnancy, it’ll probably be a pretty big shock for them. And, if they’re like most parents, they’ll probably get very emotional. Some parents will scream and yell, blame you, blame the guy who got you pregnant, cry, or not want to talk about it at all and give you the silent treatment. But whatever their immediate reaction, try to remember several things that will help you and your parents get through this stage. First, your news is a big shock for them.

Although they might not let on, they are probably blaming themselves and wondering what kind of parents they really are, or where they’ve gone wrong in your upbringing. They might be ashamed, wondering what their neighbors, friends and relatives will think. And they’re also very worried. What does this mean for you, their daughter? For them? For all of you as a family?

The second important thing for you to remember is that you should give them some time to get over their shock. Let them express their anger, their worry, or whatever it is they feel, in whatever way it comes across. Although you might want to tell them why it happened, or how it happened, if they’re emotionally upset, this might not be the right time to tell them these things. In fact, this might make the situation worse. You might end up getting angry and upset too, with everybody yelling at everybody else and nobody listening to anybody.

Now, trying not to get emotionally involved at this point might be pretty hard for you to do, but try to understand and remember that it’s natural for your parents to get upset, and that they need time to get over the shock and calm down before they can deal realistically with the situation. Think about how you felt when you first found out you were pregnant. You were probably shocked and hoped it wasn’t true. You needed time to accept the situation. Try to give your parents time now. Don’t give excuses, or get angry with them.

If you’re really worried about how your parents will react when you tell them, it might help to have someone there with you at the time. An adult you can trust and talk to, maybe someone who already knows your parents might help you out. Maybe your minister, priest or rabbi, a counselor from school, a friend of the family, or an older brother or sister would be willing to help you face your parents. If you think one of your parents would be calmer and more understanding about it than the other, perhaps you can break the news to him or her first, and them the two of you can talk to the other parent.

If all you know at this point is that you are pregnant and you need help in deciding what you’re going to do next, we advise you to get pregnancy counseling as soon as possible. The pregnancy counselor or social worker will talk with you about your choices, and give you information that will help you make the decision that’s right for you. Call them as soon as possible. For other confidential information, call the Teen Line and speak to one of our telephone attendants. They will be happy to assist you.

Before we end this tape, we’d like to say one more thing about the decision you’ll be making. It is your decision. Your parents have the right to advise you. They might feel that they know what’s the best for you, and they might be right, but some parents they have the right to choose for their daughter whether or not she’ll keep the baby. If your parents are telling you what you have to do, and you don’t agree, please get counseling. If you wish, the pregnancy counselor will help you talk to your parents. It’s not going to be an easy decision for you to make, but you can be more comfortable with it if the decision is yours.

Telling your parents that you’re pregnant won’t be as hard as you think it might be if you remember some of the things we’ve talked about. Parents have a right to know because they care. They’re legally responsible for you. You need their help and support at this time. When you tell them, give them time to get over the shock and avoid getting drawn into an emotional scene. Enlist the aid of an older person if you’re worried about their reaction. Remember, you have a lot of decisions to make and you will need your parents’ help.

For additional support and resources please call our 24-hour Teen Hotline by dialing 2-1-1 or 954-567-8336 (TEEN.)

Teen Tapes is produced by the University of Wisconsin, Madison.