Breathe. Yes, it can definitely be overwhelming to be confronted by a friend seeking your help- especially in a situation as important as pregnancy. You may feel pressured to know all the answers, and maybe you fear that if you don’t know all the answers, you may negatively impact her decision.
Keep calm. You may not know all the answers, but do your best. Your friend is already overwhelmed, and you need to be a strong, calm voice of hope and love for her. Yes, you may be as shocked as she is. However, maintain a balance of empathy and calm. If she is crying, comfort her. If she is upset, let her vent. If she is shocked, remain level-headed.
Be aware that not all girls are comforted by hugs. She may come running into your arms, or she may need a little space. You know your friend. Consider what would make her most comfortable and comforted.
Now, here are some practical steps for helping your friend:
1. Listen very carefully. She may talk a lot, or she may not have much to say at all. No matter what, she needs someone who will simply listen to her without feeling judged, criticized, or pressured to do something she does not want to do. She may be very scared of what people will tell her, especially family members or her partner.
2. Ask questions as needed. She may be an open book, or she may hesitate to reveal her needs. Gently asking questions will help you better understand her situation and what she needs help with. Do not rapid fire questions. Be patient, and give her time to answer.
- How are you feeling?
- When was your last period?
- Have you taken a pregnancy test?
- Have you told anyone that you think you may be pregnant?
- Have you told the dad?
- What do you think he would say about this?
- Would he help raise his kid?
- Have you told your parents?
- What you do think they’d say?
- What kind of options are you considering?
3. Suggest help. Assure her that there are countless resources to offer her. Offer her the world! Even if you are unsure about what is available, let her know that you are ready to find whatever resource she needs. You may not even know if it exists, but don’t let that discourage you. Offer the information that you have available, and then talk to your pro-life group, your PRC contacts, local pro-life contacts, church community, etc. about where you can find the resources that you do not currently have. Contact your SFLA Regional Coordinator if you are unsure about how to find help for your friend.
Not sure about how to suggest resources? Here are some ways to start the conversation about available help and support:
- Would you mind if I talked with you about what you can do next?
- I know someone who understands what you are going through. Do you mind if I connect you with (name)?
- There is this program/organization that helps women who have been through this. It’s called ____. I have information about it if you would like to check them out.
Remember: When offering resources, try to focus first on the needs that she identifies. She may need other resources later, but right now, you need to take one step at a time.
Are you prepared to help a friend in an unplanned pregnancy situation?
Do your homework.
- Take time to research the resources available on your campus and in your community. Consider school policies, counseling services, pregnancy resources, parenting support, adoption resources, etc. Use the FFL/SFLA survey to help you determine resources on campus and in the community.
- Tour local pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) to familiarize yourself with the services and programs that each offers, and build relationships with the staff. You should also be aware of the operating hours. With these steps, you will be confident in the organizations that you recommend! Find your local PRC here: www.optionline.org
- Keep phone numbers in your phone for PRCs, counselors, or other helpful contacts. This will allow you to immediately connect with the help that your friend or peer needs.
- If you are sidewalk counseling or hosting a potentially controversial event, notify these aforementioned contacts. Make them aware of your events so that they know to be available if someone approaches you for help.
- Create a resource guide or brochures. This will be a helpful tool to distribute on campus and to have available at your pro-life student group events. Download and customize our resource guide for pregnant and parenting students here.
You can do this!
Your love and support may be crucial to helping your friend to make a life-affirming choice. You may be the only one showing her the love that she needs to be courageous. Be there for her. Support her. Guide her through this process as best you can. Be the friend who willing to walk through fire and rain. Love is always greater than judgement.