Navigating family dynamics can be challenging under the best of circumstances. Now, you’re unexpectedly pregnant and dealing with your family members’ complex feelings around this on top of your own. It’s exhausting! The situation you find yourself in may feel especially overwhelming when your family’s spiritual beliefs are conflicting with your decision to have sex. Perhaps you’ve already shared the news of your pregnancy, and your loved ones aren’t taking it as well as you’d hoped. Maybe you’re terrified of disappointing them, so you’ve kept the pregnancy a secret. Both of these scenarios can present unique challenges, but you don’t have to walk through either of them alone.
An unexpected pregnancy can disrupt family relationships, resulting in feelings of shame and isolation. At Avenue Women’s Center, we believe that no woman should have to face an unexpected pregnancy without caring support. Our pregnancy consultants meet you where you’re at, equipping you to gather truthful information about all of your options and resources.
Learn more about the services we offer at our six locations in DuPage County, Illinois!
Spiritual Beliefs Within the Family… Influential? (Check!) Complicated? (Yep)
From family to family, spiritual and religious beliefs differ drastically in tradition, practice, and meaning. For some, spirituality is a beautiful source of strength, creating purpose in the lives of individual family members while drawing them together. For others, spiritual beliefs seem to generate judgment and division within the family unit. Families on both ends of the spectrum may have a difficult time processing the news of an unexpected pregnancy, especially when firm viewpoints exist around the subjects of sex, relationships, and reproductive health. If you’re already navigating these challenging dynamics with your family, you may be feeling burdened by loneliness and shame. Perhaps you haven’t broken the news because you’re afraid of family members’ reactions, and are considering abortion to avoid the fallout. To make matters more complicated, you’re possibly dealing with inner conflict related to your own spirituality and how it informs your decision-making. How does one cope?
Although these circumstances can feel chaotic, there is a path forward! You may find these ideas helpful as you (and hopefully your family members) move toward a place of healing.
Demonstrate a posture of grace.
As your family responds to the news of your pregnancy, remember their emotions are flowing from their firmly held beliefs and their love for you. Offer them time and space to absorb and process the information, and express themselves. Acknowledge that you hear them, value their feelings, and understand how the family’s spiritual background factors into their thoughts on the matter. When you sense that an expressed thought or emotion is coming from a place of genuine care, show compassion. Hopefully, family members will demonstrate compassion in return.
Communicate your feelings clearly and respectfully.
Your family may have a lot of questions, which you may choose to answer if you feel comfortable doing so. A good approach may include honesty and authenticity within the boundaries of what feels comfortable to you. If you’re experiencing emotional pain or feeling judged, and your family members have a track record of kindness, articulating your feelings may create an opportunity for a deeper connection. If you value the relationships and hope to move toward reconciliation, expressing this to your family members could go a long way. Know that pregnancy decisions are yours to make! Respectfully communicate this to family members if need be.
Once family members have processed the news of your unexpected pregnancy and explored their own feelings, their posture toward you and the situation might change. A loved one who is initially angry or hurt might later express support. Your mom, dad, sibling, or other family members might even surprise you by responding with grace and understanding sooner than expected. The “coming around” process can look quite different for every individual and family. If your loved ones still aren’t responding as hoped, this isn’t your fault! Accept that they’re responsible for their own actions, just as you’re only responsible for yours.
We all need support to cope well with life’s many challenges. If your family isn’t providing the support that you need, it may be time to seek it from others who are kind and trustworthy. A gentle, encouraging presence might help you work through any sadness or disappointment concerning your family’s lack of support.
*If conflict with family escalates and you are ever concerned for your physical safety, call 911 right away.
Connecting with a pregnancy consultant is one way to receive support from a knowledgeable individual who is not affected by your situation the way a family member would be. Our expert team members at Avenue Women’s Center will respond to your needs without judgment. We offer highly accurate pregnancy tests and limited medical ultrasounds in addition to practical referrals. Our services are always free and confidential!
Schedule an appointment at one of our centers, located in Darien, Elmhurst, Glen Ellyn / Lombard, Naperville, West Chicago, and Wood Dale, Illinois!
The information provided here is general in nature. It is not a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional. Before any medical procedure, it is imperative that you discuss your personal medical history, risks, and concerns with your doctor. If you have questions during or after a procedure, your doctor should be immediately contacted. Avenue Women’s Center is not an emergency center. If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as bleeding and/or pain, seek immediate medical attention. Contact your physician, go to an emergency room, or call 911.