You don’t look like an abuela, and you don’t feel like one either. You’ve nary a gray hair in sight and you could swear that your own kid just got out of diapers. But if you’re the mother of a pregnant teen, you don’t have a choice: you’re going to be a grandma, like it or not. Here are five ways to deal.
ACCEPT YOUR NEW REALITY
You may be awash in emotion when your teen tells you you’re about to be an abuela. Maybe you’re shocked, angry, disappointed, or a combination of all three. Maybe you’re excited, but feel that you should be upset. The good news is that when it comes to your feelings, there’s no right or wrong. But it’s important to feel whatever you’re feeling and then move forward, accepting your new reality. Seeing a family counselor may help you and your teen talk without letting emotions get in the way.
WHAT WILL YOUR ROLE BE?
What does your vision of being an abuela entail? Do you envision being part of the family, everyone living together? Or do you expect your teen to start a new life with the father of her child? Does your teen want to continue with high school? College? And if so, what about child care? Waiting to see what will happen is not a good way to manage everyone’s expectations: rather, the key to transitioning as smoothly as possible into your new reality is talking with your teen. What does she need and want, and what can you realistically give her?
STOCK UP ON SUPPORT
It can be helpful to know that there are other moms and teens in the same boat as your family; to that end, finding a support group in your area is a great way to connect with others. Foster a supportive and healthy environment at home in the form of books the two of you can read; buy a pregnancy journal where you both can keep track of doctor’s visits, pregnancy symptoms, and nutritional intake; and sign up at a website (like The Bump or What to Expect) that sends you emails about the baby’s growth and development.
Related Video: Home Spun Advice from Abuela
YOU’RE STILL A MOM…
And you still have a say about what goes on under your roof. You’re not only looking out for your daughter’s welfare, you’re thinking about your grandchild, too. If your teen is taking risks with her own health and the health of her baby’s—by smoking, drinking, or engaging in other types of risky behavior—you have the right to sit her down and discuss the ramifications.
…AND AN ABUELA BY ANY OTHER NAME
As The New York Times reported in 2011, grandmas like Goldie Hawn consider themselves too fabulous to be called “grandma” and have adopted their own monikers. Goldie Hawn is “Glam-Ma” to her grandchildren, and Gwyneth Paltrow’s mom, Blythe Danner, goes by “Lalo.” “My mom’s hot and she didn’t want to be called Grandma,” the Times reported Paltrow as saying. If “Grandma” or “Abuela” isn’t in sync with how you see yourself, well, go by something else. (Your grandchild may pick the name for you, which is what happened with both Hawn and Danner.)