We are so happy to see parents look at cartoons, play volleyball and behaving like school kids. We often wonder how they were at our age. We think they have always been grown-ups, they have always done good deeds and they learned well in school. But what if mom and dad are still in school? The teenage pregnancy issue is more actual than ever. A reporter from the Russian newspaper School interviews Michail Hasminsky, an orthodox psychologist and author of a book on the psychology of crisis.

Reporter: What should a teenage girl do in such a situation?

M.H.: The most important thing is to understand that powerful emotions cannot help her take the right decision. She needs to calm down and start thinking, not feeling. Gather all your thoughts, put them down on paper and find the pros and cons. But only thoughts, not feelings. Expressions like “I feel like…, it seems like…, it’s as if…” must be put aside.

R: What exactly influences decision?

M.H.: Fear. Aristotle said: “Fearis pain arising from the anticipation of evil”. The keyword here is “anticipation”: “What will the boyfriend, the parents, the professors tell?” But these problems are not part of reality. They arise from imagination related to what could happen. This “could” is usually very far from reality and it is what fuels fear. Do you remember how scared we were in childhood, when we listened to vampire stories? Because we imagined them, not because they were real.

It’s very important not to be scared of your own thoughts. These are what scares you and troubles you terribly. Fear is the worst of all. Fear and powerful emotions often result into panic. Have you seen people in panic? They can’t reasonably deal with any problem! In such a state of fear you won’t be able to make the right decision.

R: How can we solve that?

M.H.: By thinking logically and clearly. Think of the consequences of abortion. There is a serious risk that you become infertile. And this will be a much greater problem later than giving birth now to a child. Abortion is a crime. Think how you’ll feel afterwards. Maybe you’ll be killing the daughter who would be your best friend or the boy who would be your reliable support. What if you would have been aborted, too? This decision will deprive the child of sunlight, of the first love, of sunrises, of friends… and you of the possibility to love, to communicate, to receive support, to live for this child.

R: To whom can girls in this situation turn for help?

M.H.: Usually, it’s difficult for a young girl to be confronted with pregnancy crisis all alone. Most of the times, they shall turn to their mothers. The mother must give her support, create the necessary conditions for her to calm down and think straight without shame or fear. If not, she should turn to a wise spiritual person, a helping one – her grandmother, a friend’s mother, a priest, a professor, a psychologist or somebody else.

R: How to ask for help?

M.H.: We must forget about the deceiving feeling of shame. It’s absolutely normal to ask for help. Take the first step: admit that you’re not perfect, that you are in a difficult situation. Don’t be afraid. God is with you. And He works through people. But you need to make efforts, too.

R: What efforts?

M.H.: You must go beyond selfishness and start thinking of the life that grows inside you. A child is not a toy. Only you can protect its life. No one else can. Or on the contrary, you can kill it. The responsibility of this decision lies in your hands. The word “responsibility” comes from “response”. And you will respond to Life, to God and to people.

R: What advice do you have for teenage girls?

M.H.: Let’s imagine that on the way you find a big shiny precious stone. But you cannot carry it. And your travel companions advise you to abandon it: “How will you drag it after you? What’s the use of such a burden at your age?” Maybe there is even a boy who is afraid to carry the heavy burden for you. But are these valid reasons to make you throw away this precious stone? There lies your future, there lies all the joy of life: the first cry, the soft little hands, the motherly kisses… Think that you are carrying something heavy but precious beyond compare. Could you throw this in the dirt, by the road? Or you should gather all your strength and carry this gift of life? The choice is yours.

by Michail Hasminsky, crisis psychologist

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First published in Familia Ortodoxă magazine, no. 47

Translation: Ioana Onofrei / Photo: Dreamstime