In it together: How parenting classes prevent partner pressure
By Brittany Smith
When Yolanda’s boyfriend found out she was pregnant, he left. She was living in Carson City, NV at the time and had no family nearby to rely on. Feeling abandoned and completely at a loss for what to do, Yolanda began researching options online. She came across Life Choices, a local pregnancy resource center (PRC). A few days later Yolanda met with the staff and talked with them about her options. They scheduled an appointment for her to come back in two weeks for an ultrasound. But during that time Yolanda began to have doubts.
“How can I do this is a single mom?” she wondered.
At the same time her ex came back into the picture and began harassing her to get an abortion. She called Life Choices and told them what was happening. They moved her ultrasound appointment up and met with her to discuss ways to find a safe environment away from her ex.
Pressure to Abort
Sadly, the pressure Yolanda felt to abort happens to women far too frequently.
A study from the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons found that almost three-quarters, 73 percent, of women who had an abortion admitted feeling pressured to end their pregnancy.
In fact, intimate partners have a huge impact on whether a woman chooses life.
Care Net, a national PRC organization, conducted a study that found that 38 percent of women said the father of the baby was most influential in their abortion decision.
How can we help women if they have a partner who is unsupportive or pressuring her to abort?
Preventing Partner Pressure
Pregnancy resource centers provide programs designed to support women in these situations. One of their initiatives is parenting classes like the one Yolanda enrolled in.
Life Network, a Colorado Springs-based PRC, has a parenting education program called Life Steps. The program uses a curriculum from Bright Course — a parenting education program that can be found at most PRCs around the nation. The goal of Life Steps is to help moms and dads become empowered with the knowledge and confidence they need to be a healthy successful parent.
When women come to Life Network and find out they are pregnant “often they are scared and confused with more questions than answers,” said Shelly Busby, Director of Life Network’s Parent Education Program. “They have little confidence in their abilities. A pregnancy test doesn’t come with an automatic download of how to parent.”
That’s where Life Steps and parenting programs step in.
Parenting Classes to the Rescue
If a woman, or a couple, decides they want to enroll in the class, it starts that very day.
“We will initiate the process as soon as they are ready,” Busby explained. “We tailor the Life Steps curriculum to their situation. Typically, the pregnant moms come in twice a month and meet with a coach. In the coaching sessions, we cover subject matter related to their stage of pregnancy, immediate needs, and goals. This could include education on topics ranging from first trimester expectations and the baby’s growth during pregnancy to childbirth and early infant care. We also have a RN who teaches a prepared childbirth class as well as a breastfeeding class and all of this is at no cost to the mom.”
In addition, once the baby is born the curriculum and coaching continue for up to two years. It covers topics ranging from post-partum depression, toddler safety, car safety, how to bath your baby, doctors’ visits and much more.
“No one wants to go into a pregnancy unequipped. The LifeSteps Program shows women and men that there is a viable way to care for their baby,” Busby said. “Once parents are equipped everything changes. Soon they find they have countless resources and a huge community of people who want to help. You visibly see them grow in confidence with each class they attend.”
The same thing happened with Yolanda. After she saw her baby and heard his heartbeat, she decided to continue her pregnancy and enrolled in parenting classes. She now has the support of the center as she prepares for the birth of her child.
“We have seen so many women who were going to abort have a child they fall madly in love with. Their life is changed,” Busby said. “They have a renewed identity. They find they have worth in and of themselves and as a parent. They are equipped to raise their child.”
Read more stories of hope and overcoming partner pressure here.