I work at the front desk at Turning Point, so I get to see a different side of what we do. I get to see the clients as they first walk in and begin the process of getting them the help they need.
Sometimes our clients come in, bringing a man with them to the appointment. After the paperwork is filled out she is brought back to the counseling room for a pregnancy test and initial questions. We are in the process of getting male Advocates trained so the men can have a counseling session at the same time, but for now he sits and waits and I get an opportunity to talk with them.
I get to see these men as they nervously pace the floor… wondering what the test result is. They glance at the clock every few minutes. I learn about their hopes and fears for this potential pregnancy… if they want to be a dad, if they are open to the option of adoption, or if they want her to have an abortion. They’ll share dreams for the future, make jokes, or sit in silence looking at the floor. I’ve seen men that are just passing through on vacation, one-night encounters, newly-weds, boyfriends, or sometimes they are the woman’s best friend and not even the father of the baby. I find the men that walk through our door are genuinely concerned about the woman in the counseling room. I always see it as a good sign that he is here.
Men have a voice in this decision even though our culture often overlooks that. This pregnancy is more than just a “woman’s choice” it is a life changing event for both of them. At Turning Point we encourage open communication. We don’t want them to have regrets about not speaking up and having their voices heard. I tell clients that the choice they make needs to be one that they can live with, because it will always be a part of their story.
Most men I see are afraid to voice their opinion; I think it is because the media focuses so much on the “woman’s choice” and forget the other half of the couple has a voice. There was a man I was talking to this summer and I asked him what he wanted for this pregnancy, he was almost robotic in his response of “I’ll support whatever she chooses,” then he lit up and said “But I really want to be a dad!” He told me how he didn’t have a dad growing up, and how he wanted to marry his girlfriend so he could be there for his child, so they wouldn’t have to go through the hardships that his absentee-father home had. His girlfriend was still undecided on what she wanted to do. When I asked if they had talked and if she knew he wanted to parent, he sighed and said “We haven’t really talked about it.” Men almost need permission to speak on this subject.
So…If you know of a couple that is facing an unplanned pregnancy, don’t forget the man has a voice too. Encourage him to be there for her during this decision, but also give him permission to speak and be the man he wants to be. –Katherine
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