Talking about teen pregnancy with your child can be a daunting task, and you can never be completely sure that your words are having an impact. However, this is an important conversation that can’t be ignored. If you’re struggling with starting up a dialogue, use these tips to help set things in motion.
Beginning the Conversation
Don’t expect your teen to learn about abstinence or safe sex in health class. Preventing teen pregnancy has to start at home. It will undoubtedly be uncomfortable, but it can both be educational and strengthen the parent/child bond. The first time is usually the most difficult. Seize opportunities presented by movies or commercials. Explain the differences between romanticized television scenes and reality.
Don’t be afraid to tell your teen you are just as nervous as he is about the discussion. Encourage his questions; otherwise, the answers are going to come from friends who know even less than he does. Most importantly, don’t try to cram everything you want to say into just one talk—instead, discuss this issue frequently with your teen. The less taboo something is, the less desirable it becomes.
She may not act like it, but your teen really does care about what you think. Tell her what you think about sexual intercourse at a young age. But also remember to consider your child’s perspective. “Because you’re too young” is never going to sink in as a real reason for your teen to wait. Teenagers don’t feel young, and being told they are young is more likely to have the adverse effect.
Tell her about STDs and about how easy it is to get pregnant. Explain that oral alternatives are not risk free either. You can even share personal experiences. This can show that you really do remember what it’s like, and that you really are concerned for his health and future.
Discuss the Risks of Teen Pregnancy
Discussing the risks of sex with your teenagers is one of the most important ways you can prevent them from making risky decisions in the future. Teen pregnancy can be much more riskier than adult childbirth. Teen mothers are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure and anemia. Their children are at a higher risk of premature birth, low birth weight, and sudden infant death syndrome. Remember you aren’t trying to scare into submission, you’re trying to inform. Even if you have a son, he should be aware of the risks and understand his part in the process.
It’s important to tell your teen they can ask you questions. Just be prepared to answer whatever question they have. Teenagers are a big ball of feelings; talking about intercourse and teen pregnancy isn’t just cold hard facts. It’s feelings, personal values, and hypothetical situations. It’s also the realization that your teen has already had sex. This does not mean you cannot have open communication. Encourage safe sex and prevention techniques.
Most importantly, remember to listen. This dialogue isn’t meant to be a monologue; let your teen be a contributing member of the conversation. If his ideas about sex don’t line up with yours, don’t panic—that is exactly why you are talking. Let him express his feelings, but gently explain your own -- and why they are important, too.