Unwed pregnancy leads to many life-changing decisions. However, choosing to marry, single parent, place the child with adoptive parents, or get an abortion may be one of the bigger decisions single expectant parents make in their life and possibly the single most influential decision affecting the future life of their child.
When making such an important decision, it is typically best to gather as much information as possible. Ponder its significance, and prayerfully take it to the Lord. Parents, church leaders, extended family, friends, and professional counselors can be excellent sources of information to help and support the single expectant parent through this decision-making process.
The single expectant mother and father will typically experience some significant life transitions as a result of the pregnancy, regardless of their decision. Their success at navigating these transitions will not only be affected by the choice they make for their child (marriage, adoption, parenting, abortion), but also other external factors such as age, socioeconomic status, education, and the strength of their social support systems. The emotional support of the single expectant parent’s mother has been shown in social science research to have the greatest predictive value regarding their choice for their child, and is suspected to have a strong influence over how successful they are in negotiating these transitions.
If there is one critical factor that I believe single expectant parents would like their friends, family, and church leaders to know regarding how to best support them, it would be to let them know they are loved. You may feel tempted to share advice about their decisions, however it’s almost always best to let them initiate these discussions. When, or if, they do, they need you to be honest and straightforward with them, and not just tell them what they want to hear.
Last, but certainly not least, it is always appropriate to let them know that you are praying for them. Specifically, that you are praying that God will give them the direction they need.
Former LDS Church president, Gordon B. Hinckley, said to single parents, “This is a lonely duty. But you need not be entirely alone. There are many, ever so many in this Church who would reach out to you with sensitivity and understanding. They do not wish to intrude where they are not wanted. But their interest is genuine and sincere, and they bless their own lives as they bless your lives and those of your children. Welcome their help. They need to give it for their own sakes as well as for your sake.”