July 02, 2015

Q: I am 18 years old and currently 28 weeks pregnant.  The baby's father left a month ago and is no longer in the picture.  Since then, he hasn't spoken a word to me and he refuses to acknowledge we have a daughter on the way, even though the child is his. I love my daughter more than anything already, and I will never give her up for adoption. My mom is helping to support me throughout everything, but it's rough sometimes. I am taking online college course now, and I have a guaranteed job six weeks after our daughter is born.  But what do I do about the father? When the child is born, I can court order a DNA test to prove the baby is his and to get child support. I am trying to do my best, but am I doing the right thing?

A: Thanks for taking the time to explain your situation. Becoming a parent at any age is challenging, and many are not ready to embark on that journey until much older. If the father is also a teen, he may be overwhelmed by the idea of parenthood and he may not be mature enough to handle the responsibilities.  For now, it seems you won't be able to count on him for much. Perhaps when he meets his daughter or matures over the years, he will be more open to having a relationship with her. Parenthood is a lifelong journey, so I hope he will change his mind in the future.

In the meantime, it is important that you prepare for being a single parent. It sounds like you are doing all the right things -- gathering family support, getting an education, knowing your legal rights, and seeking gainful employment are all wonderful steps to creating a safe and loving home for your child.  I encourage you to keep doing them.

I would also suggest that you read and learn about labor, delivery, and early childhood issues. Perhaps your local hospital can recommend classes for pregnant women.  If possible, spend time with others who have young children and with those who are excited about the birth of your child. I urge you to continue school, as many young moms sacrifice their education to raise kids.  Also, make sure to take care of your health during the pregnancy. Try not to stress over the behavior of others who you can't control. Keep a good head on your shoulders, and I wish you the best in motherhood.

Answered by Dr. Eva Ritvo