Teenage Problems/My son got a girl pregnant and feels like he's in crisis mode!
Hi there, I'm on a public PC so having to rush this (found the site in the favorites bar on the browser). We have a 20-year-old son who's in university studying business systems and mathematics, he's coming up to his second year in September. He has been getting good grades and enjoys his course.
However, on Thursday he admitted he had something to tell us - he'd got a girl pregnant, she was 21 and not in university, he's 20, and that he'd tried everything to have safe sex, but the condom broke. They'd dated for about 6 weeks when he was in first year.
The girl text him to say she was pregnant, but he admitted ignoring the text. When he did read the text the first thing he did was break up with her due to the stress of the situation [for him], but she kept texting him wanting to get the relationship back.
Our son's been thinking of taking action that's drastic to say the least - emigrating to Canada to avoid paying child support / CSA, and he thinks it's "the way out".
However, his interest in Canada's nothing new - he's read books on it since childhood and reads news sites online about Canadian news, gets books out of the library on it etc. so I'm not too surprised on his choice of destination.
Whilst I'm shocked by what he's done, I am pleased that he had the courage to tell me - if you had a son my age do you think he would tell you?
My husband is appalled by this but refuses to shout at our son or even get angry verbally; he's too calm and rational to get like that.
Our son's even began looking at employment in Canada too, thinking about when he graduates that it'll be an easy way out.
He told us he didn't want to be a dad, and that the relationship was short-lived, and he feels that emigrating to Canada will be a challenge, but far preferable to "paying CSA for a child that I don't want and didn't intend to have".
What can we do about this, and how should we help him? Is counselling a good choice, and one other thing, how should we handle his idea about going to Canada - I'm worried over this.
Hi there Marie,
Thank you for taking the time to write to me and I hope that I can help.
First of all, it is good that your son has told you about his situation and his concerns because it means that you can monitor his situation throughout uni and look for any triggers that he is not coping. Having an open dialogue with him is the best way to ensure that he makes the right decisions for him and he does not do something drastic just for the sake of trying to almost run away from the problem.
Your son is in a difficult situation and it all depends on how set this girl is on having the baby. It could be that she intends to have the baby as a means to almost trapping your son into having a relationship; even though that is not what he wants and is not going to happen. If your son is a good lad generally and has good prospects, he is a catch for anyone but maybe (taking a cynical view) this girl is using the pregnancy as a means to attempt to get him back with her. I would ask your son though, how does he know that she is pregnant? If the only information he has had from this girl is via text message, then there is nothing to say that she could be lying in order to see how he would react and again, attempt to make him feel more inclined to stay with her. It could be, if this is the case, that your son is worrying over nothing but a lie and until he has proof that there is actually a pregnancy, he does not have to concern himself over the baby. I would also ask your son to think about how likely it is, if there is a baby, that he is actually the father. Condoms do break and accidents do happen, but unless he is confident that this girl has been with nobody else other than him during the time they split up, it could be that he is not the father and the only way of proving otherwise would be to work out the dates or get a paternity test.
Depending on how far gone this girl is, there are options available to her if she chooses them but it gets more difficult the further on that she is when the options become limited. If the option of an abortion is still there then your son may be the only person who can make her realise that having a baby will not bring them back together and it will affect both of their lives. Your son, if he has not done so already, needs to hit home the harsh reality of what she is doing and how it is going to potentially impact upon his own and her own lives. This has to come from him because she will only listen to him and it is him that will have to face up to her to have this discussion.
Just as much as this girl has a right to be a mother and want a child, your son has a right not to be involved in the upbringing of the baby. He does not need to physically get involved if he chooses not to but as you have mentioned, if the baby is born and he chooses this option then he will have a legal obligation to make maintenance payments through the CSA up until the child is eighteen. The amount he will have to pay will depend upon his earnings but it can be a sizeable chunk of his wages and if he is going to get a graduate job, his earnings may potentially be quite low which means that this will affect him even more. As this is a legal obligation, there is no way around getting out of paying it unless he requests a DNA test that proves that he is not the father.
I understand how concerned, distressed and confused that your son is and it must be like his life has been thrown into absolute chaos at the moment. He will probably begin to shut himself off from the World and pretend that none of this is real, but if he does not tackle things sooner rather than later, the impact that this can have on his life will be even greater.
It is good that he has aspirations to go to Canada and broaden his horizons and if he chooses to do so when he graduates, it should be because he wants to and is ready to, not because he feels the need to flee from the problem.
Your son's university will have access to a counselor through the student guidance department an his Student's Union. They can help him talk through his emotions and help him to make sure that he can remain focussed on his studies without getting distracted. They should also be able to offer him local advice and guidance regarding his situation and if needs be, he may also be able to seek legal advice from the University about where he stand with regards to CSA and his legal obligations. Counselling may help him to see the bigger picture and to help him put practical steps in to place to plan his life out so that he can still have the future he wants without a burden he did not want.
With regards to Canada and what you can do as his parents, is to ask the questions, listen to his responses and to signpost him to the help that may be available. If he is made to accept his responsibilities that he does not want, he will close up and will more than likely act drastically. I would look into the facilities that the University that he has and put him in touch with a counselor there to get the ball rolling.
In the meantime, regardless of what you think about the situation (whether you agree or disagree with his choice), remain positive and keep talking about the future with him to help him see that he still has a life, can still live a life and this does not necessarily mean moving to Canada straight after graduating.
Ultimately, there are only two people in the World that can manage this situation but there will be many others (probably including her family) that will have an input. People will offer opinions and advice, but your son will do what he feels is right for him and nobody can make the decision for him. All you can do as his parents is to make sure that you continue to remain in touch with him and have regular contact and if it becomes apparent that he is not coping with the situation well (for example, he starts to struggle at Uni), then you need to ask him directly what help he needs and if there is anything you can do.
Accidents do happen but in this situation where parties disagree about the best outcome, it can be an emotional roller-coaster for all of those involved. A strong family and friend support network is the only way that people can come through situations like this unscathed and with optimism and if it is any consolation, you sound like you are doing a good job already.
I have put a link below regarding CSA and it may be a good starting point for looking at options.
Hopefully, if you continue to do what you have done and are doing, your son will be able to get his focus and concentration back and he can live the life he wants and not that he feels he has to.
I hope that helps and Good Luck.