The Need for Unconditional LoveMARY BETH BONACCI
Mary Beth Bonacci encourages teenagers to turn to their parents in time of crisis.
Gee, do you suppose this was a hypothetical question? I’m asked at least one question like this in nearly every written question and answer session I do. Statistically, they say that 40 percent of today’s fourteen year olds will be pregnant at least once by the time they’re 20. Many of them are facing that situation right now. There are a lot of girls out there who are either afraid they are pregnant or certain they are pregnant, and are desperately afraid to tell their parents.
That fear is certainly understandable to a certain extent. If I were a parent, I wouldn’t want my teenage daughter to get pregnant. I would realize that pregnancy would complicate her life and make it more difficult to achieve her goals. I would be worried about all of the physical, emotional and spiritual risks that sexual activity would pose to her. I would have taught her that sex should be saved for marriage, and I would be disappointed that she hadn’t listened. But there is more.
Like most parents, I would love her very, very much, more than anyone or anything in the world. If something was wrong in her life, especially something as serious as pregnancy, I would want to know about it. I wouldn’t want her seeking help from someone else, someone who doesn’t love her and doesn’t want to protect her as much as I do. If my daughter were pregnant, she would have a problem, a big problem. She would need a lot of love and a lot of help. She would need the encouragement and support of her family.
Some teenagers go to enormous lengths, from hiding a pregnancy to seeking abortion, in order to avoid having to tell their parents. I believe that this is a terrible mistake. Hidden pregnancies don’t get medical attention, and that’s dangerous. Abortion has profound ramifications for a woman and for her child, who loses his life so that she won’t have to tell her parents she made a mistake.
The real tragedy is that it’s all for nothing. A vast majority of parents, once they get over the initial shock, are there to help and support their pregnant daughters. I have seen teen pregnancies bring families closer together.
The best way to turn a bad situation around is to involve the love and support of a family. If you find out that you are pregnant, my best advice is to swallow your fear and inform your parents. If you are truly convinced that you can’t go to them, or if your family is so messed up that you fear they would harm you or pressure you into having an abortion, call your local pro-life (this is important) pregnancy center, or call Birthright at 1-800-848-LOVE. They can help you deal with the situation. They will help you determine the best course of action with your parents, and will help you to tell them when it becomes necessary.
If you’re a parent of a teenage girl, remember this. If the unthinkable should happen and she gets pregnant, you will want her to turn to you, not to some stranger. Whether she will turn to you or not is determined by how you behave toward her now. Is it made clear to her that your love for her is unconditional? Does she know that you will love her and care for her even if she messes up? Do you remind her of this repeatedly?
I still remember my father telling me, “We’ll love you no matter what.” Of course, I knew what he was really saying. He was saying, “We’ll love you even if you have premarital sex and get pregnant.” He didn’t say it that explicitly, because it was understood that I wouldn’t have sex. But I remember, at the time, knowing that’s what he meant. I knew it was true. And it meant a great deal to me, not because I was afraid I’d get pregnant, but because I knew their love was unconditional.
Teens and parents need each other, especially in times of crisis. Don’t let fear or misunderstanding keep you apart.
Mary Beth Bonacci. “The Need for Unconditional Love.” The Arlington Catholic Herald (August 1, 1996).
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Mary Beth Bonacci is the founder of Real Love Incorporated and the the author of We're on a Mission from God: The Generation X Guide to John Paul II, the Catholic Church, and the Real Meaning of Life and Real Love: The Ultimate Dating, Marriage and Sex Question Book (Ignatius, 1996).
© 1996 Arlington Catholic
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