Dilemma: I don't think my pregnant granddaughter can cope with a baby

Katharine Whitehorn / 04 April 2016

A reader is worried that her young pregnant granddaughter will be unable to cope with a baby and that she only got pregnant for the benefits.

Dilemma: I don't think my granddaughter will be able to cope with a baby

I am a 62-year-old grandmother of a 20-year-old granddaughter. I am worried sick because she is pregnant. 

My granddaughter is not married but has a boyfriend she has only known about three months – she got pregnant almost as soon as they moved in together. 

I think she is using this pregnancy as a way of getting benefits; she is bossy and selfish while her partner seems nice but is very timid. 

When I visit I end up cleaning the flat from top to bottom while she sits in her pyjamas playing on her computer. 

I go home all upset, and wondering how on earth she’ll cope with a baby. 

Her mother has a partner, a lovely man who tries to help, but gets it thrown in his face and told to mind his own business. Also, her mother has tried but feels useless. What can I do, if anything?

Katharine Whitehorn's advice

What can you do? The hardest thing in the world – wait and do nothing. 

Maybe your granddaughter is that hate figure of the popular papers, the girl who gets pregnant to be supported by the State ever after. But she may be a girl who is simply doing what, until about 100 years ago, it was assumed every young woman wanted to do: have a baby and do nothing much else. 

At present everyone is helping her, weighing in on her, having views about her. Only when she is finally confronted with the responsibility of the real baby will you all see whether she keeps you at bay and delightedly copes with it (though not necessarily cleaning the flat in a way you’d approve of) or is indeed a hopeless character who simply wants to be propped up by you all. 

Quite a few girls do rather disintegrate while pregnant, and she is lucky to have you and her mother behind her as a back-stop. She is not alone, as are so many in her situation, and you may one day have to take a very tough line. But meanwhile, there’s not a lot you can do but sigh and hope for the best.

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