For some of us, a positive pregnancy test marks one of the most joyous and exciting moments of our lives. If it isn’t planned parenthood, however, the discovery of pregnancy after the first few weeks can be anxiety-inducing and downright scary. Among the many things going through your mind following a pregnancy test and a trip to your doctor is the thought of telling those in your lives that you are going to have a child—including your parents.
Every individual will experience pregnancy in their own unique way and, similarly, everyone will have a different experience when it comes to discussing pregnancy with their parents. Unfortunately, it is impossible to control the response and feelings of other people—it is going to affect every life involved, after all. However, with the right preparation and a positive attitude, it is possible to make a difficult conversation at least a little easier.
Remember There Are No Hard and Fast Rules
It is important to remember that pregnancy is an individual experience that has no one-size-fits-all solution.
While some women want to tell their parents as soon as they discover or even suspect pregnancy, others may want to wait until the 12-week mark or other point in the pregnancy to start telling others. Some women may want their parents to be part of their decision-making process when it comes to reviewing pregnancy options, while others will not want to tell their parents until they have decided what they want to do.
The most important thing to do is to remember that there is no reason to compare yourself to others. Instead of thinking about how you “should” handle the situation, instead focus on what feels like the correct approach you are most comfortable and happy with.
Consider Bringing a Loved One
There is no correct order when it comes to telling your loved ones that you are carrying a baby. You may want your parents to be the first to know, or you may trust your boyfriend, close friends, grandparents or other loved ones with the news first.
If you do want to discuss your pregnancy with someone else first, you could bring them with you to provide support as you speak with your parents. Having someone else there with you can help you steady your emotions, and serve as a reminder of the support and love you have in your life, regardless of your parent’s response to the news.
Depending on the circumstances of your relationship, you may want to bring your partner along. This could demonstrate to your parents that you have support and reinforce the idea that this pregnancy is something that will affect both of your lives going forward.
However, it is important to understand that not every person will be a good fit for this conversation. Consider who the person (or people) you would like to bring are, what relationship you and your parents have with them, and what kind of effect they may have on your parents. If their presence may make a conversation more heated or emotionally charged, it may be wise to speak to your parents alone first.
Focus on the Future, not the Past
When you first tell your parents that you are pregnant, they may have a lot of questions that focus on your past: When did this happen? When did you find out? Who is the father? How did this happen?
Although these questions are natural, they can be unproductive when discussing your pregnancy. Comments about your previous behavior or partners could be offensive and hurtful and make an emotionally charged situation worse for everyone involved.
Whenever possible, focus the conversation so it is based on the future. Focus on what you plan to do, what support you may need from your parents, and how you are feeling. Even if your parents are disappointed or upset over your pregnancy, no one can go back in time and change the past. Instead, you can discuss the future, and how you plan to move forward now that you know you are pregnant.
It’s Okay to Come Prepared
In your mind, you might imagine the conversation going in a thousand different ways. Luckily, you do have the opportunity to prepare for multiple outcomes. Feel free to write out what you want to say in advance and be ready to rehearse and advise. If you feel nervous, you may forget to say things you find very important, so it is perfectly okay to write down notes to remind yourself.
Consider what your options are, and which ones you have been considering the most. For example, if you have been leaning towards adoption, write down the reasons why you are interested in this option, as well anything you may need help with. This could help keep the conversation as productive and pleasant as possible.
You can also prepare for best and worst case scenarios. If your parents respond with anger, you should consider how you might respond. If your parents are pushing you towards a pregnancy outcome that you do not want yourself, consider how you would inform them of this and assert your own position about the situation. Also, be prepared for positive outcomes, and for your parents to be supportive and sympathetic towards you—simply because a conversation is hard to have does not mean it has to end heated or poorly.
Create a Distraction-Free Environment
This may seem obvious, but waiting in line for coffee minutes before your parents have to leave for work is a bad time to drop the news that you are pregnant.
You ultimately want your parents to be in a position where they are able to listen to you and have the time and space needed to regain their composure and think rationally about an emotional scenario.
Take a Deep Breath
It is alright to feel nervous. Give yourself enough time to feel prepared and confident in yourself before starting the conversation. Remind yourself that your parents’ response is important but ultimately will not define your pregnancy or your future.
Take a deep breath, fix your posture and give yourself a moment to think. This may very well be among the most important conversations you could have in your life, so it’s important to be patient not only with your parents but with yourself as well.