Soon-to-be dad at a crossroads

For this 17 year-old, it feels like his problems are insurmountable.

Our elder agrees it’s a lot to handle. Read on for his thoughts on dealing with the present—and the future.

Dear EWC:

Hi, I am 17 years old, I’m from Florida, and apparently, a soon-to-be father, unfortunately. I sat down tonight simply to think to myself and assess my situation, and realized just how screwed I have it right now.
My girlfriend is five months pregnant, I have no money put away, my job is below minimum wage, and it’s all overwhelming. I have 3 credits left, and will likely graduate early. But even then, I don’t even know how to drive.
My dad is rough-and-tumble, having raised himself from being homeless at 16, yet all he can tell me to do is persevere and no matter what I do, it’ll provide a desirable outcome at some point. I really just need to know where I need to start when it comes to addressing and solving my problems.
And I really wish I could have more encouragement, since my mom, well, she died, and my Dad is very free range, and isn’t emotional at all.

Nick replies:

I’ve responded to over 3,000 letters at EWC. Rarely do I read one from a 17 y/o as articulate and reflective as yours. You may be only 17 and yes, you haven’t always assembled the pieces of your life neatly, but, wow, do you have a gift when you set your mind to it. What happened happened. What determines everything now, after your night of reflection, is what you do next. I think this is why you wrote to EWC. Life will throw at you unplanned sh%t just like this pregnancy was not planned.

If your gf wasn’t pregnant and there were no financial obstacles, what would you dream of doing with your life? If you’ve come up empty then you need to have a second night of reflection to assess yourself. The next focus is on the unborn child. You admit that you are not ready to be, had no intention of becoming, and cannot financially do what is best, for a child about to be born in 4 months. While no child is ever a mistake, what you do next could condemn your child to a life of struggle if you unleash a cascade of further mistakes.

Sometimes the most loving act we humans can do to help someone else is to give him or her up for a more secure future than we are capable of providing at the moment. I know of several families who placed their children for adoption out of love. Today adoptions are open if that is what you and your current gf would choose. This means you remain a part of the child’s life throughout your life.

This brings me to your gf. Nowhere in your letter did you mention that you truly love her. But upon reflection, are you ready, at 17, to make a lifetime commitment to each other? I doubt it. You are better off focusing on what is best for the child (adoption or co-parenting) without any added layer of trying to keep a relationship alive as it crashes against the overwhelming responsibility you are taking on. That would be a mistake.

Last night was an awakening for you. I hope you let it out. I hope you allowed yourself to be so overwhelmed that you cried because that is healthy. That means you are ready to deal with your reality. You are at a crossroads you didn’t expect at 17. You should have 70 years ahead of your minimum. You want to make as adult a decision as you can so that you don’t handicap yourself for all those decades.


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