Life is Complicated Right Now: Can I Really Parent?
Unexpected life circumstances can make even the most stable of people become anxious and overwhelmed. Unplanned events are like a punch in the gut from left field. Job loss, layoffs, homelessness, loss of relationship, death of a loved one, major surgeries or an unplanned pregnancy creates a path in which we have to navigate hard circumstances that are difficult for anyone, and leave us reeling. It is during these times that our thoughts and emotions overwhelm us trying to cope with not only what we are feeling – anger, grief, shame, disappointment, fear – but also thoughts of “what in the world am I going to do?”
Our knee jerk reaction often is to try to withdraw and hide until we feel better or can figure out a solution. Or even worse, we hastily resort to the “quick fix,” “erase my mistake” solution that can cause long term repercussions. In these moments of life crisis, we need to be sure we take time to think through all options and keep the long term view in sight, not just the quick solution for today. There are many options available to us and a major life changing decision should not be made based on emotion. Serious events require serious thought and planning, not denial or decisions made on a whim or out of fear that could make problems worse.
In fact, if you take time, do your research and connect with trusted people or counselors that can help you see all sides of a situation, you will be able to make more informed decisions that fit you and your life. Unfortunately, our minds will naturally gravitate toward the negative outcomes as we play out scenarios in our mind. All of these feelings and thoughts are normal reactions and you are not alone. But if you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, take a moment to let your mind drift to parenting… what does that look like for you? Is it something that you wanted to do one day? Why not today? What would you need to do it and do it well? What do you look forward to about having a child? Why couldn’t you do it and enjoy it? Allow yourself the liberty to entertain these thoughts and feelings before making a quick fix decision.
Parenting may not be so bad, even though it may not be “when” you thought you’d do it, you can still do it and you can do it well, with support from family, friends and community resources. You may be surprised that your family and friends, after the potential shock, will rally to your side to help you in ways you never imagined. Keep in mind, you’ve had some time to process the shock and emotions, your family will need that time too; allow them the time to feel that.
Even if your family or the father of the baby is not supportive there are so many parenting resources, community organizations, groups and programs created especially for you to help you succeed in your time of need (job training, education, new mom or dad support groups, housing for single moms, baby clothes, diapers, nutritional help for you and the baby, even financial assistance). They want to help you; all you need to do is reach out and ask, and there is no shame in asking for help because you are the reason they exist. It really doesn’t matter what your situation is, there is always someone that can help you through the toughest of circumstances.
For community resources in your area visit: www.211.org or dial 211 on your phone.