Help My Pregnant Daughter Stay in School and Graduate
Pregnancy is one of those life events that can torpedo education. Not only do two-thirds of pregnant teens drop out of high school, but their babies are affected by the mother’s lack of education as well. The children of teen dropouts are far more likely to live in poverty, to have health and social problems, and to drop out of school themselves.
Finishing high school can easily take a back seat with so much else to worry about. So many decisions. So many emotions. So many changes. No wonder school becomes an afterthought! In the midst of all these transitions, try to take the following steps.
Visit the high school guidance counselor immediately.
When the high school is plugged in early, its services can be more appropriate and targeted to your daughter's needs. "The sooner we know, the more we can help," says Joan Vidak, high school counselor, Mason County Central Schools in West Michigan.
2. Discuss my daughter's educational options with her counselor-and include my daughter in the discussion.
Every school district has its own unique programs for pregnant teens. An urban school district, like Flint Public Schools in Michigan, for example, has a special school for pregnant girls until they have their babies. Services in rural Mason County are coordinated by the high school counselor. Under Title IX laws, your daughter has access to any services, such as in-home tutoring, that the district offers to other students with a temporary disability. The district may also offer special classes or support groups for pregnant students. Find out what's available.
Make time to talk to my daughter about her emotional well-being.
Instead of gossiping with her friends in the cafeteria, she's in the bathroom dealing with morning sickness; instead of finding a date for prom, she's finding out how the baby's father is reacting to his impending parenthood. Your daughter's life is turning upside down; her body's changing; her friends are changing. Ask her how she's doing-who her friends are, how her classes are going. Let her know you'll listen. Tip: Your daughter may not want to do a lot of talking about her options, but you should still be thinking about them and watch for moments when you can ask, "What do you think about...?"
Create a post-baby plan with my daughter.
The overwhelming changes ahead may feel more manageable in smaller bites. How will your daughter be a mother and a student? What childcare arrangements might work for your family? What outside support services are available? "The future isn't over," says Vidak. "It will take more support and more planning, but your daughter still has a successful life ahead."
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