Questions about Teen Parenting

Moms ask

How will I support myself and my child?
One of the first concerns of any parent is how she is going to support herself and her child. If you are working, you may be able to continue in your same job. Unless you have a friend or relative who is willing to help with childcare, you will need to find reliable childcare. Some states offer assistance with childcare costs, particularly if your income is within a certain range. If you are going to school, you may be able to find a part-time job or may qualify for public assistance in your state.

Where will I live?
If you are living with your family, you may be able to continue to live with them. Have an honest discussion about how the addition of your baby will change your relationship with your family. If you already have an apartment, explore how you will meet your expenses once you have your baby. Other housing options include living with another friend or relative, living in a group home for single mothers, or subsidized housing. You will want to look for a safe and affordable option that will allow you to get to your job or school, as well as your childcare provider.

How will being a parent affect my social life?
Having a child will change your social life. Your friends may change. Your activities will change. You will not have the same amount of time for yourself that you did before your baby was born. Find out when family and friends realistically will be willing to babysit so that you can “go out.” Promises can be easy to make, but sometimes they can be difficult to follow through on. An honest discussion can help avoid problems in the future.

What resources are available to help me?
Your counselor or a local crisis pregnancy center can help, or they can refer you to an agency that offers pregnancy counseling. Professional counselors often know the local resources that are available. There are many churches and community agencies that offer help, or you may qualify for public assistance for medical or financial needs.

Is my baby’s father going to be involved?
Whether your child’s father is involved or how much he will be involved depends on several factors. What is your relationship with him now? Does he want to be involved? He may not want to be involved, no matter how much you want him to be. The bottom line is that he has certain rights when it comes to your child.

What rights does my child’s father have?
Fathers have clearly established legal rights, but they depend on your state. If you make an adoption plan, he may have a right to be notified of the plan and to let a court know if he is interested in custody. If you decide to parent, he has a duty to support and a right to visit with your child. You should check with your state to determine if the baby’s father still has a right of visitation, even if he is not paying child support.

How do I get support from my child’s father?
Your child’s father has a responsibility to help you support your child. Many states may offer you help in collecting child support. Other states may require that you hire your own attorney. You and the father may make an informal agreement regarding support, but that may not be enforceable if it is not paid. Your state’s child support enforcement office may be able to give you specific information about your state law.

What role will my extended family play?
It is important to talk with your extended family both before and after your baby is born to ensure that your expectations are the same. Your family, including your parents, may be willing to help you for a time, but their idea of helping you may not be the same as yours. The responsibility to care for your baby is yours, not theirs.

How do I know what is best decision for me?
The best decision is an informed decision. Knowing your options and what they will mean for you and your baby is the best way to decide what will be best for both of you. Find or ask to be referred to a professional counselor who can help you explore you options.

Can I still choose adoption later, if parenting doesn’t work out?
Deciding to parent when your child is first born doesn’t stop you from reconsidering adoption later. An agency that provides pregnancy counseling can help you explore all of your options, even if you have already given birth. What is most important is whether you are able to be the kind of parent that you need to be for your child.

I don’t want an abortion, but I know I’m not ready to be a parent. What can I do?
If you’re not ready to be a parent, you can still give your baby the gift of life by choosing adoption. You can plan for you baby’s future by selecting a stable, loving family to care for your baby. After birth, you can see your baby, name your baby, and spend time with your baby. If you so choose, you may be able to get updates on your child’s progress or have ongoing visits throughout your child’s life while you continue your education or career goals. Finally, you can be proud that you chose life for your baby.

Dads ask

What legal responsibilities will I have if my girlfriend decides to parent? What rights?
In most states, if your girlfriend chooses parenting, you are required to pay child support until the child is 18 years old. Consult with an attorney or your county Friend of the Court office to learn specific details about your rights and responsibilities, filing for paternity, and other legal issues.
If you and the birthmother decide that it is best for you to parent your child, your counselor can refer you to community resources that specialize in helping single parents.

I want to be involved with my child, but I’m not ready to parent. What are my choices?
If the baby’s mother decides to parent and has custody, you can request visitation so you can be involved in your child’s life. You and the child’s mother may also consider adoption and together make a plan for your baby’s future. An open adoption may allow you to have some involvement in your child’s life, too. See Types of adoption.