Everyone talks about teen girls getting pregnant but rarely is the subject of teen boys having a baby the topic of discussion.
For some reason, it is either ignored or not a big deal. But it shouldn’t be ignored and it is a big deal! It’s a big deal for everyone involved.
As the parent of a soon-to-be teen father, where do you turn? How do you help your son? What are your responsibilities and those of your son?
There’s little doubt you are upset, disappointed and probably even sad. What is often considered a joyful event is nearly impossible to be celebrated under these circumstances.
The uncertainty of what will happen next is likely at the forefront of your mind. How this will affect you and your family is a scary thought.
The decision of whether or not the pregnant teen chooses to maintain the pregnancy, keep the baby or place it for adoption is, in most cases, entirely up to the teen mother.
She does not need permission from her parents or the teen father to have an abortion or to choose to parent.
However, the state of California does require that the father approve of an adoption because he will have to give up his rights.
As the parent of this young man, he needs you now more than ever.
Also, communication between both families is essential as the future of the pregnancy, baby and teens are being decided.
He may want something different with regards to the pregnancy than the teen mother or the parents. His friends are telling him one thing and his heart may be telling him another.
It is very important for you to set aside your own feelings and help him to talk it out and make better choices going forward.
Some of the major concerns I hear at the Southwest Pregnancy Counseling Center from parents are “Can my son be arrested?” “Will he have to pay child support even though he is in high school?” “Will I be personally responsible for supporting this baby?” “How can we be sure this is our son’s baby?” “How will he raise a child when he lives with us?”
Statutory rape is an issue if one party is older than 18. However, very few cases are brought to the attention of the District Attorney unless the adult involved has a criminal record or a date rape has occurred.
You, as his parent, are not financially responsible for the pregnancy or baby. Until your son is 18 years old, he will not be legally responsible for paying child support.
Regardless of whether or not he wants the girl to keep the baby, he should take financial responsibility as soon as he is able.
If he chooses to avoid it, he could risk future visitation or custody since he did not show a financial commitment for his child early on. Of course, it is also the right thing to do – support the child.
Until a child support order is in place, this support does not have to be just cash. It can be diapers and other baby items to help out.
Once the baby is born, it would be prudent to request a DNA test to ensure paternity. However, if both parents agree that the child is theirs, they can fill out court documents and file them accordingly without any testing.
For more information on this issue, contact or visit your local family law courthouse.
As soon as possible, work closely with the teen mom and her family to establish guidelines during the pregnancy (i.e. attending doctor’s appointments) and a reasonable visitation schedule that will enable your son to bond with his baby.
It is not likely that these teens will marry in the near future, if at all, so be sure to be sensitive to the fact that he is separated from his child.
Your son may suffer from mixed feelings about getting his girlfriend pregnant. Whatever the outcome of the pregnancy, be sure to let him share his own thoughts and feelings with you and put your judgment aside.
He needs your support and encouragement to respond in the right ways and in the ways that he will have to live with for a lifetime.
Lisa Vinton is the founder of the Southwest Pregnancy Counseling Center.
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