“I think I might be pregnant.” This is your friend. You know the pregnancy is unexpected. Maybe she texted you last night or said the words quietly while you were walking between classes, and you have no idea what to say next. You want to support her, but you’re not sure how to do that. Having a baby is complicated, and you want her to do the right thing. Maybe you think you shouldn’t say anything but you don’t want your friend to be disappointed by your response.
Show a real interest
Be sure that you are in a time and place where you can give your friend your full attention. If you’re at school or can’t stop what you’re doing right then, let your friend know that you want to listen and ask for a time when you can do that. Her choice to trust you with this huge news means that you matter to her and she values your input, so take that seriously. Look her in the eyes and ask questions that will give her a chance to tell you how she feels and what she’s thinking.
Keep inviting her to tell you more
“Tell me.” Your friend has a lot going on right now. Even though you may already have thoughts or ideas about what she should do, she’ll need to sort through the options herself in order to make a good plan. You can help her by giving her freedom to verbalize her thoughts and fears. What she needs most is someone safe who will listen to her. So keep listening, and keep inviting her, “Tell me more about that,” until you’re sure that you’ve understood where she’s coming from. This isn’t the time to share all the negatives or “what ifs.” She’s probably overwhelmed and already aware of all the possibilities. If she’s sharing her fears, invite her to share and focus on encouraging her as she shares.
Don’t interrupt or change the subject
It can be easy to respond to someone else’s crisis situation with stories you’ve heard or statements about what you would do if you were in her situation. This isn’t the time to say things like, “Just get an abortion.” Or, “I can’t imagine doing an adoption. Who does that?!” Or, “Babies are so cute! You’ll be fine!” Respect your friend’s thoughts and values by letting her process her options and make a plan that she can live with. An unintended pregnancy can raise difficult or awkward questions that you don’t really have answers for. You have your own thoughts and emotions going through your mind and heart. Maybe you’re afraid for her or angry at the guy. Rather than changing the subject or cutting her off, hold your own emotions in check while you focus on what your friend is saying. If she asks for your thoughts, focus on agreeing enthusiastically with her as much as you can and disagreeing softly. If you do strongly disagree with something she’s said, you can still communicate gently that you see it a different way.
Help her to focus on the good things. Think about what she’ll need help with, and do what you can to be there for her. Help her to line up the resources she’ll need as she prepares for the future. If she hasn’t confirmed the pregnancy yet with a medical appointment, let her know that she can talk to someone at Selah at no charge. We can confirm whether she’s pregnant and give her information on how far along she might be. We’ll talk with her about all her options and give her resources she needs to decide what to do next. If she has already confirmed the pregnancy, let her know that Selah has trained advocates who will help her to be sure that she has accurate answers to her questions. We have resources for each stage of pregnancy plans and will be a safe place for her to get the support she needs. You can come with her, so that she’s fully surrounded by people who care about her and want her to thrive.
An unexpected pregnancy raises lots of hard questions with no easy answers. Love your friend by listening well, asking questions, holding back your opinions, and helping her to connect with resources she needs. Do you have other ideas? Things you think a friend should or should not say? Leave us a comment. We’d love to hear your thoughts!