Is my daughter pregnant?

Even if you practice very hard, it can be difficult for this question not to sound like an accusation.

Maybe she is. Perhaps you’re about to have to deal with this whole thing. Or maybe she isn’t. Presumably you don’t want to just come straight out and ask her, but that’s understandable. Even if you practice very hard, it can be difficult for this question not to sound like an accusation.

Why are you thinking this? Have your parental detective skills proven that there aren’t as many tampon wrappers lying around lately and she’s moody and avoiding you … let’s face it, there’s a hundred other potential reasons for both of those, particularly for a teenager. Is it a hunch, you just know that there’s something going on and this is your best guess? Try to think back to being a teenager and how little your parents knew about the world you lived in then. If you’d even tried to explain to them how complicated and extreme things get then they wouldn’t have understood it, parents just can’t, and you can’t really understand your teen’s world fully either.

I just feel that something’s changed, something’s going on that she’s not telling me. I don’t know what it is and lately it’s like I can’t say anything right

The main thing you can do is demonstrate that you are open to talking and create short times when this can happen. It’s very easy to just coexist alongside a teen, giving them lifts to place, nagging about laundry, watching tv downstairs while they’re up in their rooms or out. What this means is that it’s rare to actually have a conversation. So think of it this way, if you need to have a big conversation with them then you’ll need to warm up by making sure you’ve got some practice in where you’re talking about normal, everyday things. Try for non-confrontational situations, car journeys are good because you’re sitting side by side so avoid awkward eye contact. Supermarkets are good because you’re can talk about the week, the food, the other shoppers. Allow them to talk and to express ideas and thoughts that you might not agree with. This isn’t going to magically fix this issue but it will make it slightly easier if you can show that talking with you is safe and normal.

Last week I literally counted the tampons in the bathroom so I could see if any were being used. Yes, it felt ridiculous

If your daughter is pregnant then you must know that she hasn’t told you because she’s not ready and/or because she’s scared. Children can do an excellent job of protecting parents from sides of themselves that they think you won’t like. You can try to force this conversation to happen but it’s more probably that you’ll make her far less likely to talk to you at all. Shouting and threatening is not the way to create a safe space.

What you want is to parent your daughter, to look after her, to support her. Your job is to make sure that you are giving out that message to her in your words and actions.

The most important thing is to listen to her. Even if she’s not talking out loud about this, she might be telling you in other ways that she needs your help. Follow her cues and be there to guide her.

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