Preparing for How Family Members May React to Your News

And What You Can Do About It

It shouldn't matter what others think. It's your body and your life. So why is it that, when most women learn they are pregnant, one of the first of the many thoughts that begin racing through their minds is telling their parents and family?

While it is never healthy to feel afraid of being honest with your parents or family, it's important to remember what lies beneath the surface of the reaction, that the way they appear to feel rarely matches the true nature of their emotion.

For a parent or family member, your pregnancy may symbolize many different stress factors simultaneously, such as loss and grief, among many others.

Everyone handles stress and anxiety differently, but the following are some categories psychologists and counselors have noted as patterns in human response to stress and anxiety. Under each reaction are some ways these responses may be expressed on the surface.

Denial or Numbness:

Self-preservation, protection, emotionally distancing to lessen pain

  • Upon telling your father the news, he pretends he didn't hear you or that he hasn't in any way been affected.
  • Your boyfriend doesn't believe that you are pregnant, even when you show him the home pregnancy test results.

Emotional Releases:

Tears, even laughter, are ways for the body to physically release stress

  • When you confide in your mother about being pregnant, she bursts into hysterical tears as though she has just received news of loved one's death, instead of learning that a new life has been created.
  • Your sister starts laughing!


A reaction to loss of control

  • While at the doctor's office to confirm the pregnancy, your boyfriend begins to sweat, tremble and even hyperventilates.


Rather than confronting the issue at hand, ruminating about what could and should have been done

  • As soon as you tell your parents the news, your mom and dad begin to list ways they could have raised you differently.
  • Your boyfriend begins beating himself up over not using a condom.


Threats to a person's basic beliefs or understanding of life in general can manifest as anger or even violence

  • You father throws a chair or punches a wall out of anger.

Need to Talk:

Verbalizing the situation, or repeating stories or memories is another coping mechanism people use

  • Despite having confided in your older sister about being pregnant before telling anyone else, you learn she didn't keep the news to herself when your mother calls and says she knows.
  • At the grocery store, you run into your aunt standing around a group of people, all talking about you and your pregnancy.

Physical Ailments:

People may experience real physical symptoms in response to grief, stress or anxiety

  • Every time you see your mother, she seems to have a different physical complaint, though you've always known her to be healthy.

Not only will knowing the real reason behind your loved ones reactions help you feel empowered and more able to face the reality of your situation with strength and rationale, it can help you help your loved ones process their emotions in a healthy way. While it may not be the best thing to tell your mom, who is in tears, that the real reason she is crying is because her body is in need of a physical release, knowing this can help you find ways to handle your pregnancy in a healthy way.

Your Adoption Specialist can better help you understand the emotions of your family members. She is available at 1-800-ADOPTION or by requesting free adoption information.

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