I don't know what to do?
That is ok. No one knows what to do all the time. If your friend tells you something you don’t know how to handle, take a deep breath and give her a hug. Chances are she is feeling as lost as you.
Start with what you DO know. Write this down. What information do you have, what information might you need to get, how might you get that?
Make a plan together. Who will do what step? How will you support each other? How will you check in that each other is ok? What other people do you want involved? How will you get them involved? What other people do you NOT want involved? How will you keep them out of it?
I barely know the girl?
Sometimes people blurt out things or share information with people without much thought. If someone you barely know tells you something huge (like she is pregnant), you could ask her a few questions…
That is big news… does anyone else know?
Ok, is there something you would like help with?
Wow, what would you like me to help you with?
Be as tactful (nice, calm, not-judgmental) as you can. She may not want anything from you, or she may really need some support. It’s ok to ask a few questions to work out what she wants. And how you both feel comfortable about going forward.
I don’t agree with her decision?
A friend may have said she is pregnant and she wants to have an abortion or she is pregnant and won’t tell the guy involved. You may or may not agree with her decisions. This can put a strain on any friendship. Remember, it is her life and she choice. Here are a few ideas of how to have this conversation.
Ok, I know this is your decision. I just want to make sure you have thought about …..
Do you feel like you have enough information to make this decision?
What makes you feel this way?
It is not your job to change her mind. She is best equipped to make a decision about her life. It is your job to support her and comfort her (and maybe provide the hugs and chocolate).
I don’t think she is safe?
If you are worried about a friends safety this is pretty important. You may be worried that
- someone is about to hurt her
- that she will hurt someone else
- that she might hurt herself
If any of these are worrying you, it’s time to take some action.
This might be a time to get someone else involved. This should be someone older and someone you trust. Possibly an older sibling, a parent, a family friend, teacher etc. Tell your friend before you involved someone else though, possibly saying something like:
Grace, I’m worried about you. Can we please let Jose know, she’ll know what to do.
I am worried that you’re not safe, and I don’t know how to keep you safe, who should we talk to about this?
Ensuring your friend is involved in the decision about who to tell will help her feel in control of her situation. Even if she begs you not to tell anyone, if you are concerned about safety, it is SO IMPORTANT to get help.
I think she isn’t being responsible?
Your friend drinks a lot, may tell you she has unprotected sex all the time, or she is pregnant and you see her continuing to drink, smoke or take drugs. This might not sit well with you because you have different values to her.
It can be hard to set our judgements aside and support people who make different decisions to us, or look at life differently. If a friend is being ‘irresponsible’ in your eyes and yet she is asking for some support it may be useful to set up some boundaries and expectations so that you feel able to support her and you’re not being so challenged by her behaviours.
I think she should tell her folks?
Telling others about a pregnancy is ultimately up to the person pregnant. However, there are a few key people who might be useful in the early stages to help with support, medical care and decision making. If you feel that your friend should tell her parents and she is hesitant to do so, check with her why this is.
Is there any reason you haven’t told your parents yet?
How do you think they will react?
Will you be safe if you tell your parents?
Have you any ideas how to break the news to them?
Would you like me to come with you when you tell your parents?
Remember safety is key. Not everyone’s parents will handle the news of a pregnancy well. Check out this page for tips on how to tell your folks.
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It can be hard knowing the 'right' words to say. Actually, there are NO RIGHT words. Sometimes there are no words that can fix or comfort.
We have compiled a few lines that young women said they used when they were supporting their friends.
"OK, how about we will go and see someone for some information together?"
"I’ll support you the whole way."
"I promise I won’t say it to anyone without your permission first."
"If it’s your decision, I’ll support it."
"This is huge - I can’t keep it to myself because it’s too big. What do we do? Who do you want to tell next?"
"Why don’t we go and see someone – I don’t have the knowledge but I’ll come with you."
"I’m worried about you and I can’t fix this – can we tell someone else? I’ll come with you."
It can also be hard to find the words to support a friend who is making a decision that would be different to your decision. Remember that you are not in her shoes and she is best equipped to make this decision. Your role is to support, despite the difference in opinion.
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