After 9 years Bishop T.D. Jakes talks with Roland Martin about his teenage daughters pregnancy.
Pastoring a church of 30,000 members comes with its own complexities and stresses but this can be multiplied many times over when your teenage daughter gives the news that she is pregnant.
After nine years, megachurch Pastor T. D. Jakes of The Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas is opening up about how he handled the news of his then 14-year-old daughter’s pregnancy.
“Shocked, crushed, emotionally devastated, and yet there was something down inside of me and in her mother as well, that said we have to rise above the trauma,” Jakes said on the Roland Martin Report describing his first reaction to the news.
After expressing his initial feelings of disturbance over the incident, Jakes concluded that “love overrides everything.”
When news of the pregnancy spread, the prominent pastor also encountered difficulty emanating beyond his home.
“We got letters, we got blogs, we got stuff that was lies and garbage told about us. We had the press swarming the church.”
With various media coming to the church to further report on the story, Jakes commended his congregant’s integrity, refusing to say anything and telling the press that it was a personal matter that they had nothing to do with.
Despite the pressure, Jakes stood by his daughter keeping her as his chief concern and not his image.
“It wasn’t about being embarrassed, it wasn’t about protecting my image. I cared nothing about that. I cared about what you see sitting right here,” referring to his daughter, Sarah Henson, as he placed a hand on her back to comfort her.
When asked if she felt as if she had let her parents down, Henson said
“I think I did. I mean, I knew they had high expectations for me as their daughter and I felt like I did let them down but the grace of it all is that we have a faith that teaches us no matter what you’ve done, there’s always a way back onto the right path…”
After having her son Malachi and embracing motherhood, Henson went onto graduate high school at 16-years-old, attended Texas Christian University and is now married.
Jakes believes that although the pregnancy was a difficult time, it was “the best thing in the world that could have happened.”
Reflecting on a letter that his daughter wrote him, Henson expressed being sorrowful for the pain it caused her parents but that it was “worth it all” because through it she could see how much he loves her.
Confronting questions about involving teenage fathers so that they don’t become disillusioned and abandon their children, Jakes believes that pastors should reach out to them and get them included as soon as possible as a means to restore the family but disagrees with the thinking that teen pregnancy determines the young parents should marry.
“I think whenever possible we should try to get the young man in. I think that we should try to get the family restored but let’s not go back to the old days where just because you make a mistake you end up marrying somebody that you’re miserable with for 30 years.”
In raising her son, Henson wants to reflect the level of honesty propagated by her family and share her story with him, encouraging him to stay focused on what’s currently important and he will have everything in its right time.
“There’s plenty of time to have kids, be married, and fight and argue with your girlfriends. Right now let’s focus on school,” Henson said of the advice that she will one day give her son.
Henson now has a blog giving advice to young girls and women speaking on sex and marriage in an attempt to demystify the subject so that young girls who are curious about it won’t experiment with it just because they are inquisitive about the subject but will have a place they can come where it is discussed.
She encourages a level of transparency between children and their parents on the subject.
Giving advice to other parents who are shocked by the experience of teenage pregnancy, wondering if they “skipped something” in raising their children, Jakes believes that parents should reflect on if they could have done something better but not fall into blaming themselves.
“You should not be exempt from the process and assume that the child made the mistake independent of you. I think that in the process of elimination, you have to consider and go back through your life and say what could I have done differently to make this better?”
“You can’t sink into the abyss of blaming yourself because children today at earlier ages have their own mindsets and make their own choices. So its not about who do I blame for this but what can I learn from this?”
Jakes also emphasized the action was the mistake and not the child and urges others to “separate who a person is from what they do,” it being important to him not to judge his daughter by her mistakes.
“For me, when push came to shove, I wanted her to know, that if I get pushed on this I got you no matter what. I might be working at Wendy’s but we’ll be together.”