Bits for boys
Finding your place can be tricky when facing an unplanned pregnancy. As the pregnancy is forming in the women’s body, she has the right to decide how to proceed with the pregnancy.
There is no law in Australian that enables the man involved in the pregnancy to either force a woman to have an abortion, or prevent her from having one. Communication is the best strategy in this case; clearly let her know your views, what you can offer and how you see this moving forward. Ask her to talk together with a counsellor if you need help having your voice heard.
Similarly, you cannot force a woman to continue the pregnancy. The father is legally responsible to share financial support for a child with the mother regardless of the relationship between the parents. If you are not together, child support payments can be arranged personally and/or involve the Child Support Agency. The amount will depend upon the care arrangements for the child and the income and circumstances of both parents. It can also be adjusted as circumstances change.
Adoption is the only option where the man involved needs to sign the legal paperwork. An adoption cannot proceed without the father's consent except for these circumstances:
- The child was a result of sexual assault
- The parent does not have capacity to give consent
- The identity or location of the parent cannot be established
- Harm would result from the man involved if he was made aware of the baby or proposed adoption
If you have differing opinions around adoption, contact Adoption Services Queensland to understand your rights around becoming the legal guardian for the child.
For more information please head to the Children by Choice "Your legal rights" page.
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- Ask her what she needs.
- If she wants to talk, listen.
- If she wants to be alone, it’s okay to leave.
- Understand that what she wants may change over time, so keep checking in.
- Be honest
- Avoid “you should” and “why don’t you” and talk about your own thoughts, “I’m thinking …” or “I would like to …”.
- Remember that you don’t need to have the answers.
- Be understanding that she has lots to process and physically she will have lots going on in her body. This may mean she gets tired easily, angry or cry more. Listen lightly to words said in anger.
- If she chooses to terminate the pregnancy, take responsibility for contraception. Use condoms.
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While the decision about the pregnancy lies with the woman, it can be important that boys get support too.
If you are looking for more information around pregnancy options (Abortion, Adoption Parenting), check out the Options page.
If you are looking for more information around what services are around to help support you and her, check out the Useful Websites page.
If you want some strategies for processing this information, check out the Decision Making page.
If you want to talk with someone, you can speak to an adult that you trust like a parent, youth worker, guidance counsellor or your School Based Youth Health Nurse. If you would prefer to speak to someone else privately contact any of the services below:
Children by Choice Information and Referral around unplanned pregnancy (07) 3357 5377 or 1800 177 725
Kids Help Line Free, private and confidential, telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25. 1800 55 1800
MensLine Australia 24 hour telephone support, information and referral service, helping men to deal with relationships problems in a practical and effective way.
1300 78 99 78
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If the woman does decide to continue the pregnancy and parent, for you becoming a young dad may be very daunting and overwhelming.
You may feel many different and have competing feelings, joy and sadness, anxiety and excitement.
Women go through lots of physical and hormonal changes during pregnancy. This may cause her to feel worried, anxious or irritable, sad or happy. Try to be as supportive as possible during this time.
There will many changes for you and also your relationship with the woman. Your relationship will change, regardless of whether you are a couple or not. It is extremely important that you both communicate and treat each other with respect.
This is a huge change. It is important you process your feelings work together to manage what lies ahead.
Ask questions. Talk to the woman (partner or girlfriend), talk to other fathers, ask your mum, grand mum, aunty, anyone you trust and who you think will help you prepare to become a father.
Some practical questions to think about are:
- Will you remain or become a couple?
- Will you be co-parenting?
- How involved do you want to be?
- What support will I provide and how will I provide this support?
- What will our living arrangements be when the baby arrives?
- What supports do we have from friends or family?
- How will I manage financial?
- What about education, training or employment?
- How will my relationship cope?
Rights and Responsibilities
Becoming a dad can be very rewarding but it also brings with it responsibilities to the mother and the child. You have the responsibility to:
- Financially and emotionally care for your child
- Be present in your child’s life
- Ensure that your child’s needs are met.
- Ensure your child is safe and well cared for
- Is free from harm.
- You have the responsibility to make decisions that are in the best interest of your child.
With these responsibilities come rights as a father.
- You have the right to know your child and to participate in your child’s life.
- You also have specific rights regarding custody and access to the child.
Every family is different and children are raised successfully in a wide range of relationships. If you work on arranging a stable routine and try to ensure that you and your child have a good support network from people that you trust, your relationship can grow stronger through parenting.
If you are struggling it is important to seek help with your emotions, speak to a professional. A list of support services are provided below.
MensLine Australia – 24 hour telephone support, information and referral service, helping men to deal with relationship problems in a practical and effective way.
Call 1300 78 99 78 or visit their website.
Kids Helpline - Free, private and confidential, telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25. 1800 55 1800 or visit www.kidshelp.com.au
Children by Choice - Information and counselling on all unplanned pregnancy options – abortion, adoption and parenting. Call 07 3357 5377 or Free call 1800 177 725 (outside Brisbane) or contact us.
Young Parents Programs - There are also a number of young parents program that can help too, that can also build your parenting skills and support you in other ways. Ask your local youth service for details of programs in you area or check out our, Pregnancy & Parenting Support Organisations.
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If your girlfrend is facing a decision about an unplanned pregnancy, it can be hard to know just where you fit into the picture. You may have your own thoughts and emotions and it can be hard to know how much to share and how much to hold back.
Most girls would like to know how their boyfriend feels. There is a difference between sharing your opinion and sharing your feelings.
Your feelings are valid and can help her explore her own thoughts and feelings about parenting, adoption or termination. Sharing feelings may be a new experience for you, and this does not mean you are less "manly". They actually show incredible courage and thoughtfuless.
Your opinion is also valid and can be powerful in her decision making. Be aware not to push this opinion onto her.
If you're thinking it is better to support whatever she wants, it is still important to share with her how you feel. Women often find that making a decision about their pregnancy is easier when they have all the information available to them. This includes how you feel about it.
In the end, this is her decision as the pregnancy is occurring in her body.
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If you are not in a relationship with the woman, then you may still have a role to play in this.
Unplanned pregnancies can and do happen even if you were using contraception. While there is human error (forgetting the pill, taking medications that stop it being effective, the condom breaking etc), contraception is a joint responsibility. Contraception failure may have been what happened for you, or you may have just got carried away and thought "that won't happen to me". Turns out. It does.
If you get along:
- Keep the communication going.
- Your job is to support her and let her know how you feel.
- Be clear about what you can offer her, this will help her decision making. Be honest about the likelihood of a relationship in the future. If it’s no, say so. If its yes, explore if this will be a healthy decision for you and her. Leading her along or saying you will support her if you aren't sure you can, can have a HUGE impact on decision making. Be really responsible with this information.
If you have since broken up, or you don't know her very well:
- Be clear about what you can offer. Don't promise something you can't deliver.
- Take a more active role in contraception use in future. For example, carry a condom in your wallet.
- It took the both of you to do this, so refrain from blame or turning negative.
- Using pregnancy to keep a woman in your life is a form of abuse. Trying to force a woman into any choice can be very harmful to her well-being.
Yes, her decision can affect you. This is why it is important to be clear and honest with how you feel, so you can come to a mutual understanding about the decision.
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The reality is that unplanned pregnancy occurs frequently. No contraception is 100% effective - this means that it happens to even the most careful couple!
Also, people make mistakes. For example, sometimes alcohol affects our decisions, or maybe we act on impulse. This is now an opportunity for you to talk with your partner and to support her in the decision making.
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