When your friend first tells you she’s pregnant, you may not know exactly what to say. Pregnancy is a huge thing, and it’s going to change her life.
But how can you figure out what you should—and should not—say to your friend?
Every pregnant person is unique, and the situation around your friend will be different from that of anyone else.
So the most important thing you can do is listen to her. Ask her how she is feeling about it. Don’t assume you know. And don’t assume she will face her pregnancy the same way someone else you know faced theirs. Listen.
When she looks at you like she’s ready to hear what you have to say about it, think about what you learned by listening. Which of these things is your friend ready for you to honestly say to her?
- I’m your friend no matter what.
- I will support you as you go through this.
- I know of some people who are good at helping women in your situation. (After all, you know Choices Pregnancy Center, right?)
- I’ll go with you to talk to your parents.
Don’t make promises you can’t keep. But do what it is within your power to do in standing with your friend.
What not to say
There are some landmines to avoid in talking with her about her pregnancy. Here are some things not to say:
“How did this happen?”
Seriously? Like you don’t know?
Whether she would label it failure of self control or failure of birth control, or something else altogether, it’s time to move forward, not to stand looking backward.
Blame and shame don’t help. Taking responsibility for the next step is your friend’s wisest move.
“Just get an abortion and everything will go back to normal.”
No, it won’t. She can’t go back to never having been pregnant.
Getting an abortion won’t erase her pregnancy. It will only end it. Pregnancy is now part of her personal history. If she chooses abortion, that will become part of her history, too. Any step she decides to take will shape her history—and her future.
There is no “delete” key or reset button with pregnancy. No going back. There is only going onward, either with a pregnancy that continues or with a pregnancy that ended.
“I know just how you feel.”
This is never true. You’re not her. You’ve never stood in identical shoes—same parents, same boyfriend, same personality, and same point in time.
The best you can do is offer similarities. But this pregnancy is hers. She alone feels what she feels. The baby inside her has a unique set of DNA. Her parents’ reactions will be their own. Her partner will face his responsibility in his own way.
Sympathize, but don’t presume to fully understand.
“I know what you should do.”
Even if you are convinced you know what would be best for your friend, she has to come to her own decision. Stealing that responsibility away from your friend weakens her.
Empower your friend by helping her access trustworthy information about all her options. Help her find sources that are not going to benefit from any decision she makes. Don’t be naïve enough to think any organization that makes money off one of her options—like abortion—is highly motivated to give her all the facts about her other options when that won’t benefit them.
This is where a pregnancy center like Choices will be an asset for you and your friend. Since we offer all our services for free, we make sure women receive all the facts they need about all their options. Your friend may not know how much help is available for her.
Finally, Listen Some More
There may be plenty of people telling your friend what she should do. A lot of pregnant teens face a great deal of pressure to blot out this pregnancy and act as if it never existed. As if it didn’t matter.
But it does matter, especially to her. That’s why one of the best things you can do for your friend is listen. Let her talk out loud about how she feels, what she thinks, why she might choose one option over another.
Connect Her with More Helpers
You may feel like you’re in over your head with her—like she needs someone with a little more experience in helping women work through their unexpected pregnancies.
That’s where Choices Pregnancy Center is ready to come alongside you and your friend. You can even come with her for moral support if she’d like that.
We care about women facing all the choices around pregnancy. We’re experienced in compassionate listening as well as providing all the information about her options that she can possibly want. We have a strong network with other helpers in our community. Let us get her connected to all the resources just waiting for her.
We don’t profit from our clients. We serve them. Because we care.
Bring your friend in to Choices Pregnancy Center today and find out how we can help.
If you don’t live in or near Redwood Falls, Minnesota, you can find another pregnancy center near your friend through OptionLine online or by calling them at 1-800-712-4357.