I'm afraid to tell my mom, "I'm pregnant"

Dear Alice,

I'm a 21 year old college student who will be done with school in a month. My boyfriend and I have been dating nine months and I am now two months pregnant. He is aware of the situation and is very supportive. My mother, however, is very strict and set in her ways. She reinforces all the time that I must not have sex with anyone until I'm married, and she has been asking me questions about whether or not I've had sex with my boyfriend. I am very afraid to tell her I'm pregnant because there is no telling how mad she will get. What do I do?!?!?!?!

Dear Reader,

You're in a difficult situation right now, and it's unfortunate that you also have to worry about figuring out how and when to tell your mother about the pregnancy. But remember that at age 21, you are a full-fledged adult, and although your mom may not approve of your decision to have sex, or the decision you make about your pregnancy, these are officially your decisions to make. Either way, it sounds as if her opinion and support matter a great deal to you.

An unexpected pregnancy may be tough to deal with, particularly when you're aware that some family and friends (in your case, your mother) will respond with anger or upset. As you probably know, you need to decide what to do about your pregnancy. You have several options, including keeping the child, adoption, or having an abortion. If this feels like a big or difficult decision it may help both of you to talk with a health care provider or counselor to explore your options and make the choice that is right for you. Planned Parenthood can help you with your choice, whatever you decide. You can weigh the pros and cons of each possibility and evaluate your feelings about each, rationally or irrationally. If you decide to keep the child, do you have enough support and resources to do so? How would you and your boyfriend pay for and care for a baby now? What are your personal beliefs about abortion? These are some questions that you could explore together that might help clarify the options.

To prepare for talking with your mom it may help to think about what you hope to get out of telling her. Do you need help with making a decision? Are you going to have the baby and you want your mother to know? Are you looking for support? It may also be helpful to practice what you'll say before you let her know. If talking to your mom seems to scary, try practicing first with another friend, trusted adult, or counselor who can help you rehearse. 

Then you could choose a moment when you'll have your mom's attention. You could sit down with her, in a place where you're not likely to be interrupted, and say something like:

  • "Mom, I know you don't approve of sex before marriage, and I try not to disappoint you, but I've learned that I'm pregnant. My boyfriend and I have decided to keep the baby, and we want you to know — we really could use your support."
  • Or, "We've decided to give the baby up for adoption after it's born, and we want you to know."
  • Or, "Mom, I'm feeling scared about telling you this but I want to be honest with you. I just found out I'm pregnant and I'm pretty sure I want an abortion. I know you might be disappointed in me, but I could really use your support now."

Explain to your mom that you know she may be disappointed, angry, upset, etc., but that this pregnancy is nonetheless a reality, and you'd really like her support. It's impossible to predict how she will react; your mom may surprise you and be less angry than you expect, or she may be angry and hurt at first, and then come around. If not, your boyfriend's kindness may help soften the blow. It is crucial that you get caring and guidance from those around you, even if you don't receive it from your mother. Are there other family members who can help you and your mother deal with your pregnancy?

Whatever the case, keep in mind that sometimes life takes unexpected turns, and we can simply do our best to deal with them head-on as they arise.

Last updated Mar 25, 2015
Originally published Nov 09, 2000

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