Pregnant Teenage Niece

Updated on January 18, 2011
T.L. asks from Altadena, CA
27 answers

I have two sisters whom I am not really close with since I live across the country from them. My sister is separated from her husband and raising 3 teenage girls. My sister's oldest teenage daughter (17) is pregnant. According to my sister, her daughter will not agree to any other option than having the child even though her daughter does not have a job, still lives with my sister, and routinely leaves to stay/sleep with the boyfriend whenever she pleases then comes back like this is totally normal. The boyfriend has no job, lives with his male cousin, and basically hangs out (he is not in school). Neither my niece nor the boyfriend are making any plans for this child (how to feed, clothe, shelter, etc). My sister has converted her den into a pseudo apartment for my niece so she and the boyfriend can have privacy and has given her two baby showers so she can have everything she needs. She has placed the youngest niece (12) in a babysitting class so she help with the baby. My niece is still covered under my sister's health insurance so I assume the delivery costs are my sister's to pay. Well, she called to tell me I have a new great-nephew. She wasn't in the delivery room like she wanted to be even though she is footing the bill because the niece wanted the boyfriend there, so she said No to Mom being there. Now my sister wants to know when I am flying in to see the new baby. Seems my other sister has already made plans to get there asap. I think all this is ridiculous and my sister is being a doormat being dictated to by an unwed, teenage brat. When did it become acceptable to glorify poor decision-making? What sacrifice or hardship is my niece having as a result of her decision and why, oh why, should we all fly in to celebrate this? I have already sent 2 shower gifts and received no thanks from the niece or the boyfriend (or my sister for that matter). If the niece were moving to her own place and needed help setting up, I'd be more than happy to fly in and bring lots of supplies as well. But this setup is bizarre; it's going to be like a 3rd shower/party/celebration and I know I won't be able to hold my tongue. What is this teaching the younger nieces? Has my sister lost her mind? Am I wrong not to be booking my flight right now?

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So What Happened?

This is not about loving the baby. The baby won't know if I'm there or not. Of course, I will be as involved with the new baby as I am with the current nieces and nephews. This is about going along to get along. Is it ever worth it (going along to get along) if you feel like a hypocrite while doing it?

Featured Answers


answers from Albany on

If my neice had a baby (under the best or worse circumstance) I could not WAIT to get my hands on him!

But you're you, and I'm me, so the best thing for you to do is what feels right to YOU!


2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Redding on

Oh dear.
Well, what your sister puts up with is up to her.
All I can say is that if you fly there, neither the girl, nor your sister, are going to want to hear what you think.
It sounds like your sister is trying to make the best of a bad situation and your niece wants the gifts and attention that stem from having a child she's not really prepared to have.
I'm trying to put myself in your shoes. If my nephew was having a child under these circumstances and my sister was in your sister's shoes....I wouldn't travel to see the baby and make a fuss. I would try to be as supportive of my sister as I could possibly be from afar, but that would be it. Not that I don't love my nephew. I could tell him I love him and I hope things work phone.
If you choose not to go, I'm behind you on this one.
You being there won't change anything.

I wish your family the best.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I can completely understand how you feel, except the pregnant girl was my brother's girlfriend, and she already had two kids by 20 (so my brother's baby was #3). I was very angry, disappointed, and many other emotions. How I reacted created an unrepairable rift with my brother.

The baby is here. It doesn't matter how it was conceived, who conceived it, or what lessons should be taught. There is a newborn little boy that needs love an attention from his family (that also includes you). Your sister also needs support from her family. Her world has now changed, and as much as you want your niece to learn a lesson (trust me, I didn't hold my tongue with my brother and it didn't do any good), it is not your place. She has a baby now, and she will be learning many lessons along the way.

I feel I grew up and learned more about myself when my brother became a father in the manner he did. I realized that babies will come no matter how we feel about them. It is up to us to choose how we react, and we can choose to offer love and support, or we can choose to distance ourselves and judge. Either way, there is a beautiful new baby boy that needs as much love and support as he can get. Make the choice that is best for the baby.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

THREE showers?

I think that if your attendance requires a flight, send a gift and stay home til the kid arrives.

I've had to bite my tongue regarding some unexpected babies in our family. I think that while you can love the kid, it can be hard to support a gimme attitude from the parents, and that is your option.

I also wonder if your sister is focused on this so she doesn't have to deal with issues with her husband. Frankly, I think enlisting the younger daughter to babysit (a 12 yr old with a newborn?) is punishing HER for her older sister's mistake. I don't think your sister is thinking clearly, either.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Bloomington on

It is not the baby's fault that it was born. I say that anytime a person is born, it is cause to celebrate. It sounds like you are saying you do not care to see the baby because of the choices the parents have made. Not that I agree with the choices at all - and if it were my daughter I would not have handled things the way your sister did. But don't fault the baby because of it.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

A friends mother once told us a good thing to remember.
"Never criticize or judge another persons child, you never know how your own children or grandchildren will turn out.. "

Even though I was raised Catholic and learned all about celibacy, I was amazed how many of our great Aunts and uncles, grandparents etc.. had children because of premarital sex. This was for generations. Even in my husbands family of Southern Baptist Preachers, if you added up birth certificates vs. marriage certificates it does not always add up.

That being said, what is done is done. Your sister is doing her best. She sounds like she needs someone to vent to. If you do not want to be that person. let her know so she can find someone else. If you do not feel like you can love this great nephew, then stay away. He will have enough negativity in his life.

Yes, it is always terrible when children make life changing poor choices, but that is now their lives and no chance of going back. You can mourn the loss of her childhood and be disappointed in her lifestyle and her entitlement, but in reality, this is now their lives. They need to work it out and decide what they need, want and willing to put up with.. I would never expect a thank you note in the future, so decide if you will continue to send them gifts..

You do not have to be pulled into it, just stay 2 steps back and take a lollipop ( that is what I do) in case you tend to spit out what is exactly on your mind when not asked.

Hopefully the younger kids will learn their lesson.. A crying infant, fighting parents, dead beat boyfriend, silly self centered sister.. They are going to want to keep their legs closed and get the heck out of that house..

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

Not to take sides, but I'm with you.

My brother's daughter had a baby when she was 16, (she's 28 now). My B and SIL were divorced at the time and my SIL did pretty much what your S has done. It was like she got so excited over the baby that she forgot that her daughter was the mom and had some hard lessons to learn if she wanted to be a good mom. Since my B refused to talk to my niece because of the preg, my mom catholic guilted the rest of us into 'being' there.
Well-flash ahead 12 years and my niece is still a selfish brat who feels the family, state and anyone else she meets owes her something. I have since stepped out of the picture with it. I feel for my great-nephew, but helping him is helping her-so except for doing things that he can directly benefit from I don't participate in the guilt game anymore.

To keep it from semming like you are the aunt who just doesn't care-state your case. You've sent gifts-you've shown concern for the child..but spending $ on a ticket to indulge your sisters new chance at motherhood..I don't think you should feel responsible for that.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

And what did that tiny little baby boy do to not be celebrated? He is your great nephew and your sisters grandson. It makes perfect sense that your sister would be doing everything in her power to ensure that that tiny baby boy is cared for since it's obvious that his mother and father aren't going to do it. Do you really want your brat of a niece to learn her lessons at the expense of your new great nephew?

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

My response may feel strongly worded. Please remember, I am sharing an opinion in response to Teri's question. We are discussing feelings here -- Feelings are never right or wrong, which is what makes them so very painful to work through.

Stay right where you are. Times are tight for everyone right now. You can maybe model good decision making skills by saying, "We just can't risk the expense right now. You never know what kind of emergency could come up and we might really need that money."

Besides -- You sent gifts already. Now you can simply follow up with a congratulatory card and a request to see pictures or skype soon.

Adoption is such a great choice for everyone touched by such a situation. Did you know only 2% of teenagers choose this? Preposterous. I watched a friend recently go thru this w/her 17 year old and it has been devastating. But she stayed so strong. She made her DD go online and find an apartment, a part-time job, sign up for whatever medical coverage she could get for herself and baby. She had to make a plan to replace the full-scholarship she had recently been awarded to a parochial college. The daughter's cell phone bill was rerouted to her as was her car insurance and gas card. Having a baby is something adults do and I thought it was refreshing to see a parent follow thru with consequences she had been discussing with her daughter since she was 12.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

So, are you choosing to not love this baby due to the way he was brought in? You do not have to like the parents or any one else to be a loving person ... give your neice and sister tough love but not the baby he does not deserve that.

This is the feeling I got after reading this ... it may not be your intention to present your emotions in this way and I respect that but my blurb above is what I got from it.

You do not have to visit right away by any means but I would suggest you do so with in 6 months of his birth (summer so the kids can come) or something to that effect would be a good enough reason to hold off. You can also say due to cold/flu season you want to wait to bring too many people from out of state who are possibly bringing with them germs from MANY places ... blah blah blah if that is what makes you feel better about holding off.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

I would send a card -and I don't now how "congratulatory" I could even make it! Yes, if your sister has taken this approach for the daughter's entire life, then I'm not surprised. Why should she think about the consequences of anything? What consequences? She still has her home, her boyfriend -and even got 2 (TWO!?!?) baby showers! She lives for free and comes and goes as she pleases! What a life! I tell you who I feel sorry for -her little sister who it seems is being groomed as "nanny" for this baby. I hope they plan to pay her, because this isn't her ball of wax.

Your sister sounds like she's trying to make the best of a bad situation, but this is silliness. Those two need to at least be working part-time jobs and finishing school. She needs to make it crystal clear that after high school, they need to find an apartment, jobs and sign up at the local community college with some loans. I doubt she'll do this -but if she doesn't, she's also going to wind up at some point with a 30 year old and probably several more grandkids to support at that point. I know she's your sister, and you can decide how you want to say this, but if I were you, I would tell her I was worried about her -that I saw her being taken advantage of, and it wasn't about loving or not loving the niece or the new baby, but she certainly wasn't doing her daughter any favors. I would let her know why I wasn't racing out there to visit and act like everything was just wonderful. Remind her that you have children to set an example for too.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I have met wonderful people who had children in their teens and are wonderful parents....all of them took responsibility from day one and never took hand-outs......I'm sorry that your niece is taking advantage of her mother's love and generousity....I'm also sorry that the boyfriend isn't stepping up like he should.....I have my own beliefs and thoughts on when to have children, but it isn't my place to judge the situations of others......

That said- You have a right to be upset and disagree with the actions of your sister and your niece....You also have the right to tell her that you are not able to make it to see her at this time, but will do so when and if you can......You have sent some gifts and as long as you allow your sister to talk about her new grandchild and enjoy pictures, I think you have done more than enough.....

I think your sister is doing her best to provide an environment that is stable for her daughter and grandson.....A mother's love does things that seem absurd because it is unconditional......It may not make it the best thing to do, but she seems like she is trying to keep her daughter as close as she can, probably because she is scared to think of what may happen if her daughter were on her own with the baby......

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I do think you should make a trip out their eventually, but I could totally understand why you wouldn't want to rush out their to celebrate something that you are not fully in support of. I would simply tell your sister that at this moment isn't the best time, but how about you all plan for your trip in July or something like that. It'll give you time to see how things adjust, let your sister know that your still willing to be supportive of her, and not put you in that awkward situation of celebrating a decision that you don't support. After a few months of the parenting attempt, the celebrating feeling will be gone and you can go out there and meet the new baby without all the "excitement" behind it. I would still try to be as supportive as you can be in spite of your feelings, as they are probably going to need it as niece starts to learn how hard parenting is and I'm sure your sister will start taking over a lot of the responsibility.

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answers from Houston on

"When did it become acceptable to glorify poor decision-making? What sacrifice or hardship is my niece having as a result of her decision and why, oh why, should we all fly in to celebrate this? "

I completely agree with this statement. It seems so many people let the behavior slide once the baby is here. I agree, the child is not at fault and deserves love, but the teen mother is only being enabled. It is sad the 12 year old aunt is being more responsible taking babysitting classes than the child's own mother.

If you can afford a flight, then by all means go and meet the baby. If not, which is most likely my train of thought, wait until you are able and go at a time when it is convenient for you.

I love my sis with all my heart, but even I couldn't go to meet her baby b/c the flight was just not possible for me. They shouldn't weigh your support or love for the baby on if you can get there or not right now.

Don't shun the baby of course, but don't support the mom's behavior. However, it is better to be supportive than it is to be judging. Perhaps you can offer words of wisdom in a positive light as opposed to seeing only the negative. Perhaps you can change your relationship with the new teen mom as one of wisdom, who can offer your advice about continuing education and becoming a responsible and independent parent. I would give her access to resources such as first aid and parenting classes from the state. Remove yourself emotionally. You can love the baby without showering the teen mom with lots of "congrats!"

And, when people say that it must be meant to be b/c babies come from God, I really, really think that is b.s. I DO believe babies come from God, but the choice to get pregnant was the mother and boyfriend. God did not force or condone them to do that. People have consequences for their actions, pregnancy is one of them. It's not a gift to be celebrated. It's something to be taken very seriously. I've guess I've seen too many teen moms glorified around here that rely on everyone else to take care of them and their baby with this mentality.

*Don't get me wrong not All teen moms are selfish and lazy, I have seen some remarkable teen moms that really matured and got it together quick! I am simply referring to those that are, which is an overwhelming amount from my experience.

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answers from Peoria on

This is a tough situation. I am the mother of a wonderful 12 year old boy that I had when I was 18 (got pregnant at 17). Giving up the baby never even entered my mind. I don't mean to sound harsh- but you need to stop being so judgmental. I was raised in a loving, two parent household, was a straight A student, and never got into any trouble - just goes to show you it can happen to anyone. This is your sister's daughter - and it is their decision on how to raise the child. It sounds like she is making the best of a bad situation the only way she knows how. This is her grandchild, remember, and she is going to think of things differently than you. It sounds like she will probably end up doing most of the child-rearing since your neice doesn't sound like she is quite ready for the responsibility of being a mother. Be grateful she is there to help take care of the baby, and your neice isn't out on her own in some seedy apartment with her loser boyfriend. All this judgement from you is only going to put distance between you and your sister, and that will not help matters at all. She is going to need someone to talk to and help her get through this hard time. Don't deny her that just because you wouldn't have done the same thing. You can never truly know what you would do until you are in that situation. My mother was such an amazing source of support for me and taught me how to be a great mom. Instead of being bitter and angry, why not try to be a source of support for your sister and neice? It would be a shame to let this be a rift in your family. A baby truly is a blessing, no matter how they came into the world.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Im sorry, but you are being far too judgemantal. First, you state you arent close, so I guess any influence you could of had on your nieces lives hasnt taken place. For me, that would take away any right to judge, right there. But I also wonder if you've raised any teenaged girls, nevermind 3! Trust me, they arent easy, and seldom see their mothers point of view. Your sister is making the best of a difficult situation. What choices your niece makes arent up to your sister.
I was a mom at 15, only 14 when I got pregnant. My mom wouldnt speak to me for almost 5 years after her birth. That didnt change my mind or make me regret having the baby. My daughter is now 21, and Im pretty resentful that not only did my mom not respect my decision to raise her, but she didnt support me in any way, and hardly knows either of my two oldest daughters, and hasnt even seen my 10 monh old. Its a sore spot, because I have no reason to give my girls on why Nannie doesnt care. My sister wasnt much better, she visited once in a blue moon, but never acted at all like an Aunt, and really still isnt much different with the new baby I have. I wasnt a great or perfect mom, but I did my best.
I now have my middle daughter who is 16, and she is due to deliver her baby in February. I have supported her in any way I can, and not judged her. She has chosen to put her baby up for adoption, and I am very proud of her, because thats so hard to do (I couldnt) and I see it as the most unselfish choice she could make. But I would not love her any less or support her any less if she changed her mind and kept the child. In fact, the closer the delivery date gets, the sadder I am that I will meet my 1st grandchild, only to have to watch him/her be given away. I know its not my place to try to influence her choices, at least not by force or coercing her. She knows I feel adoption is probably "the best chance of a good life" for the baby, but she also knows that no matter what, I would do anything I could to make her as successful as she could be if she chooses to keep the child.

I think if you cant look past choices you dont agree with, and respect that they arent yours to make, then you probably shouldnt go, or even send gifts. Its unfair to be so judgemental, and if you voice your opinion, it will hurt your sister and niece, and push them away from you. As others have said, maybe say you cant afford it, or you need the money for an emergency etc, but try to keep your thoughts to yourself. The younger nieces will hopefully see how hard it is to be a teenage mom, particularly if they are being depended on for babysitting, and likely will at least use birth control. Maybe you could get more involved with them, and offer advice etc (with their moms approval!) regarding abstinance and birth control. Even living far away, kids are always online, use skype or something, and be involved with them.

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answers from Chicago on

Have you talked to her about your feelings? are they even worth mentioning since you are not close. You should visit if you would like to, but only in good faith. Don't do any favors. If you are comfortable, you should offer help to your sister.

If you chose not to attend, just politely say "No, thank you."

Regardless of your opinions of the situation being right or wrong, they may not be yours to share.

Best of luck to your sister, sounds like she has her hands full!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Provo on

My opinion is kind of a neutral stand point. Yes, you shouldn't reinforce your sisters behavior, but you should love your family. Maybe since you have already sent your gifts, go and see and love the baby, but kind of ask what plans the new parents have. Sit them apart from their mom and tell them what it's really like, the actual cost that goes into a baby. Tell them they need to plan maybe help them make a 5 year plan or what not. Then after that say nothing at all. You would give them your two cents and that's the end. Other than that, that's all you can do.

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answers from Provo on

This is a very difficult situation and I feel for everyone involved. I made a new friend this summer and she got pregnant when she was 13 years old and had the baby at 14. The parents made the mother and father get married and raise the child. I don't think either parent finished school and I think this was a very harsh way that the grand parents chose to handle the situation. Like was mentioned previously, this is the way that generation chose to handle things like that. I was not there and do not know the whole situation so I DO NOT want to make a judgment call. I just know that my friend has had a very hard life that basically was due to this one situation. I feel sorry for anyone who is forced to accept anyone else's decision.

Yes, your niece did not use the best judgment. That is a given!! I think it is very hard on your sister being a single mother and this is just another one of the stumbling blocks that she is dealing with on a daily basis. I am a single mother and I have three kids and two of them are still at home. I don't wish the life of a single parent on anyone but sometimes things don't go as planned. I have found out a lot about the value of a strong family base since I am a single parent. I would offer support to any of my children. Support does not always mean giving your approval. I would help them get things in order any way I could. Your sister is probably setting up the den to get things in order for them. Your need to get one issue under control before you can tackle another one. Hopefully, your niece will wake up soon and your sister may come around also after having to deal with this day in and day out.

I think that the younger siblings are going to get a big taste of what parenthood is like. It is kind of like the class that they have at school where they take the flour sack baby around and deal with the crying all the time.

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answers from St. Cloud on

You are RIGHT by not going if this is how you feel. I would NOT fly somewhere to see a niece/nephew after already sending 2 gifts..... That's a BIG expense.

I personally feel the same way you do. I feel it is NOT right for your sister to make her 17 YEAR OLD daughter and her boyfriend an "apartment". That is only encouraging her behavior of premarital sex and teen parenthood........ (This being based on what the Bible tells us is okay or not.) And it's not fair to the younger sister to HAVE TO TAKE A BABYSITTING CLASS SO SHE CAN HELP OUT AND BABYSIT! It's NOT HER BABY! But it is not my place to judge. I just know that I PERSONALLY would not do that........

Tell your sister that you would LOVE to meet the baby but need to wait until they are out your way to do so.....

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Madison on

Wow - what a situation! Can you emotionally remove yourself from the situation? If it was me going to visit a situation like this....I would just want to fix and help everything and everyone. And if they are not asking for advise, I guess, I would not dish it out, ya know. I am just wondering if they need to figure it all out on their own. Plus, not sure you are getting the whole truth from so far away. I have a feeling that your sister will just need a listening ear. My husbands family is a complete mess, and I have learned to just sit back - help when asked, otherwise just sit back and say "oh my". One more thing.....try not to judge too much (I know...I know....- I would FLIP if my teenage daughter got prego) it's your sisters grandbaby - innocent baby - I think we would do anything for our kids, no matter how messed up it is.

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answers from Boston on

I agree that you should NOT fly out at this time. It will just reinforce to your sister that she is doing the right thing by enabling her daughter. Yes the baby had no choice in this matter, but the baby is also just that, a baby, your flying out by demand is not for him but to placate your sister and make her and her daughter the center of attention. The baby won't miss your absence. It might be a nice gesture to send him a savings bond or open/contribute to a 529 college fund in lieu of more "stuff", that if she is about to have a 3rd shower, she probably doesn't need anyhow.

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answers from Spartanburg on

I understand you feeling upset for the overall situation, but you being distant will not change the way your sister raises her children, nor the values (or lack of) these teenagers grow up with. I say, think hard how you felt about this family BEFORE your niece got pregnant, wether or not having a relationship with your sister and her children was important to you, or not. In my opinion it comes a moment in life when we need to be honest with ourselves and decide who we want to include in our life in a meaningful way. If your family ties are not so tight, as you describe, perhaps it felt normal to you to grow distant from them anyways, no matter how far away you live from each other, no matter how your nieces/nephews are growing up. If you feel the need to respect your feelings, do it, but try to do it in a graceful manner. And be careful as blood ties are funny: you think you got them all figured out, and suddenly, even after years, even after the people have passed away, they get back at you in way you could have never imagined. Make sure, in time, you will not regret your actions, that's what I'd do. Good luck!

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answers from Dover on

Regardless of the circumstances of his birth, your great-nephew is a precious baby that had no say in the matter. He is here and needs as much love as possible. From the sounds of it, all the support too.

You are not wrong in how you feel about the situation. Your sister is a grandmother and is surely excited about that if not happy about the circumstances. Right, wrong, or indifferent your niece has a baby and can use all the help she can get...not for her but for her innocent baby boy.

I don't think you have to fly there if you don't want to but try not to come across as uncaring. You can express your displeasure with the situation while being supportive.



answers from Pittsburgh on

You are absolutely right. Maybe your sister really wants you to come because she needs some support from you? Ask her. It certainly doesn't seem fair to the younger nieces to expect them to baby sit and help with the baby. Sorry this happened to your sister.



answers from Atlanta on

I honestly found what Melissa said to be great advise and I couldn't agree more. I have had nephews and nieces have babies, do I agree with how they did this? no. Do I agree with how they are bringing up their kids or living their lives to a point but of course if it were me I'd do it different and did.

If you are having these feelings you need to understand this about you if you go will it make you feel better in any manner? or will you feel angry with all concerned? if you won't feel better about the situation it might be best to stay put at home. I know this I can suggest things but people change and live their lives they way they want.



answers from Los Angeles on

No don't book a flight and do let your kids know this is not your lifestyle.
You are aware that the baby's expenses will be payed for by all of us.
Situations like this end up on welfare........

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