A friend and colleague Gerald Diamond Hodges, who works with the Population Services International in Liberia actively championing youth and reproductive health issues, once asked ” If you met a girl who is young and pregnant, what would be your advice to her?”.. I replied and told him, well, if I met a young girl who just found out that she is pregnant, this is what I would tell her:
1. Inform your partner if you haven’t already done so. If your current partner isn’t the father of the child, (which in cases do happen) let this person know as early as you can, and don’t play the deceit card. It never ends well.
2. Have “the talk” with your parents if you still live with them and if it hasn’t already happened. Make certain that his parents are also aware of the situation and that at some point your parents and his parents meet to discuss the new changes that are going to happen in all of your lives.
3. If you do not know how best to proceed with the above, seek advice from only a skilled counselor, health worker, guardian, or someone you trust who will guide you in the right path. Beware taking advice from any and every friend or just anybody.
4. Visit your nearest health center and get all the information on antenatal care and treatments.
5. Learn all you can about being a mother, and how to take care of a child because you are going to be in it for a long haul
6. Be prepare to make the necessary adjustments in your own life to accommodate parenthood
7. If being a parent isn’t something that you and your partner can handle or are just not ready for, consider adoption, asking a relative to take care of the child, a family friend, etc.. but never abortion!
8. Always remember that your goals and desire for an education should never end at the beginning of motherhood. You have a life too, and as often as you can, motivate and remind yourself constantly of how important education is for you and for a better life for your child. Never consider dropping out of school for the long run. If you do drop out, consider other educational and training options.
9. Plan ahead! As early as you can, you and your partner should start learning some basic entrepreneurial skills, saving up some money (as little as you can every day or month), and considering odd jobs and small business options that will help support your child. Don’t wait until you have given birth or until the milk runs dry before you start thinking about where the next one will come from. 10. Don’t make the same mistake twice! Think about all the choices you made that led you to your current situation, and what you could have done differently to avoid being a parent too early, and then do things right.
11. Visit a family planning center (if possible with your partner) and learn about all the various preventive methods to safeguard yourself.
12. Learn to balance your new life. Being a parent may be a full time job, but with the right adjustments, there can still be time to pursue your goals and enjoy your youthful years (in a positive way!).
13. If the child’s father decides not to play any part in the upbringing of his child, either by leaving you, denying the child or simply not caring, don’t take it out on the child. Do not neglect or resent the child. It’s not the child’s fault that his dad didn’t turn out to be prince charming.
14. Learn to move on. Start developing a positive attitude and a self confidence because you will need it for the rest of your life. No use being a bitter parent, and if you do not learn to love yourself and the child, you will drive other potential partners and parent for that child away!
15. Seek advice on how to proceed with this situation, and motivate yourself for the years ahead. Being a single parent isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be difficult for you if you take on a positive attitude and have a good self-esteem.
16. Good luck! You’re gonna need it!