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Before your grandchild is born
If your daughter or son is about to become a parent you can offer a lot of support before the baby is born. However, it might take some time before you yourself come to terms with the pregnancy, particularly if your child is still in their teens or quite young. You may go through a range of emotions and feelings from shock to anger and dissapointment. This is normal, so do not feel guilty if you feel like that, or felt like that at some time.
You have to take time to adjust to your child becoming a parent maybe much younger than you probably imagined. If you feel the need to talk about your feelings around the pregnancy and get some support outside your family or friends, contact any of the Crisis Pregnancy Services listed in Help when you need it. You will be able to cope much better and support your child if you have had a chance to work through some of the feelings that may come up for you.
Once you have had a chance to adjust to the idea of becoming a grandparent (or a grandparent again) it may help to focus on practical ways you can support your child. You may not know where to start or what you can do for the best. If your child is quite young maybe still at school, it may be down to you to start making a plan around pregnancy and getting ready for the baby. If there is a Teen Parents Support Programme in your area you can get some information on what you could do. Contact details for TPSPs throughout the country can be found on the Other TPSPs page. If your area does not have a Teen Parents Support Programme, your GP, Public Health Nurse or Family Resource Centre may be able to give you information. Planning for the months ahead will prepare you in advance to ensure the pregnancy goes as smoothly as possible. Information on education options, medical care, benefits and entitlements and other related services are available on this site, so that both you and your teenager are well informed. There is also important information about the rights of fathers which is very relevant to any young parents who are not married to each other.
It is important to keep the channels of communication open between you and your teenager. Both of you will have concerns and worries relating to the pregnancy and its important that you both have an opportunity to discuss these with one another. It helps if you work together but in times of high tension and stress this can be difficult. The Teen Parents Support Programme or a crisis pregnancy counselling service, can help you talk through your concerns and help you find ways of coping with the challenge of becoming a grandparent unexpectedly.
Between now and the time the baby is born there are several things that may need to be sorted out. Try to offer your support if you can. If she does not have a partner your daughter might like you to go to the ante-natal clinic or antenatal classes with her for moral support. In many hospitals only one person is allowed into the labour ward with the mum at the one time. This might be a difficult choice for your daughter if her partner wants to be there, as she may also want you to be there. Try to work how what would be the best support for her. Your experience will be of great value but remember your daughter might have her own ideas of what type of birth she wants or how she is going to feed her baby, so it is important to keep an open mind.
Your son as a father to be, will benefit from your support and guidance. At a young age it can be difficult to even understand what it means to become a father. It may be up to you to encourage him to get involved in the pregnancy and consider how he can take some responsibility for his child when he/she is born. Encourage him to keep talking with his partner even if they have split up, so that he knows how the pregnancy is going and to show that he is still interested in the baby. You cannot force him to be involved but even just making him aware of how important fathers are to children, may help
Try to avoid battles about partners.
You may know your child's parther very well or not at all. You may like him or her or actually dislike them. Your instinct might be to lay down the law and try to stop them seeing each other, this may be met with anger and arguments. Try to resist engaging in battles about partners as it could lead to a prolonged conflict situation. Try to support your teenager to make informed choices even though this may be difficult. Forcing your opinion on them may create a divide between you, and force your teenager to have to choose between you and their partner. If the couple are no longer together it may be difficult for you to stop yourself from criticising your child's ex. if you feel your child has been badly treated. While you yourself may feel a lot of anger or hurt towards the person, try not to allow your child the space to work out their own feelings about them.
Making a Plan
Your child may have had a plan for how they wanted their future to map out. You, yourself may also have hopes for what you want your child to do in life. Having a baby at an early age does not mean that these dreams or hopes cannot come about. It may mean changing some things, even slowing them down but life is not over and it can still be a success. Try to help your child make a plan for his/her future which includes the baby. The baby is going to be part of your family so maybe all the family can get involved in some way. For the young mum, education or training is still an option during pregnancy, most schools or colleges are very supportive once they become aware that the student is pregnant. Go to the Your Education section for information. Also refer to Pregnancy and Birth to help you organise things during the pregnancy. Money Matters may help you work out what financial support your child could receive if required. Encourage your child to think out some things for themselves and to undertake some tasks as well to make their plan work.