Parenting is a wonderful option when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. Remember, you are not alone. Currently, about half (51 percent) of the 6.6 million pregnancies in the United States each year (3.4 million) are unintended (Guttmacher Institute). As you consider parenting, give yourself time to investigate it thoroughly so that you understand what raising a child will require. Also, make sure to visit your local Department of Social Services for information on financial, pregnancy, and parenting assistance. Many parenting resources are available to you if you do choose parenting as a final decision for you and your child. Here are some things you and your partner should go over together before finalizing your decision to parent:
If you choose to parent, you have several options:
Marriage and parenting. You are ready to make a commitment to both your partner and the child, and you choose to marry and raise the child together.
Things to consider: How long have you been together? Have you considered getting married? Do you have a good relationship? Are you committed to each other?
Joint parenting. Although not ready to make a marriage commitment, you and your partner choose to share responsibilities for raising the child in a joint custody arrangement.
Things to consider: Are both of you committed to the child’s needs and best interests above your own? Are you able to work through scheduling, financial, commuting, and communication challenges?
Custodial parenting with visitation. One partner is fully committed to raising the child. The other partner is less than fully committed.
Things to consider: Is the custodial parent able to take on nearly all of the responsibilities for the child? Is the visiting parent able to provide financial child support and invest some time in the child? Do both parents have an additional support system of family and friends? Are you able to work through scheduling, financial, commuting, and communication challenges?
Custodial parenting. One partner is fully committed to raising the child. The other partner is either unable to participate in parenting, does not want to be a part of the child’s life, or has exited the relationship.
Things to consider: As the custodial parent, do you understand that responsibility for the child will fall completely on you? Do you have an additional support system of family and friends? Are you prepared to have to petition for child support?
Further things to consider:
- Am I ready to accept responsibility for my baby’s needs?
- How will I support myself and my child?
- Do I have a job or financial support?
- Do I have family support?
- Where will we live?
- Do I have access to affordable medical care?
- What kind of life can I offer my child?
- Do I have physical, mental, or emotional health issues that could impact my parenting?
- Do I struggle with substance abuse?
- Am I in a safe situation?