Many schools incorporate sex education into the curriculum, however sometimes questions are left unanswered for teens, leading them to inference information about sex and pregnancy. Therefore, parents take on the primary responsibility of pregnancy education for their teens. Be sure to have the conversation early on in their adolescence, when you feel their social interactions are beginning to introduce the idea of sexual behaviors, or when their schools introduce the reproductive system into health class, in some places that’s around fifth or sixth grade.
What Do They Know?
A conversation about teen pregnancy needs to begin with a conversation about sex. This can be an awkward discussion with a parent, so if you think a close family friend or cool aunt can deliver the message with less awkwardness, ask for their help.
Begin by asking your teen what he or she knows about sex: the organs, the process, the purpose, etc. Then fill in the blanks or dissipate any false claims. Teens tend to know a lot more than parents think, but sometimes truths get clouded by false claims. This strategy also requires you as a parent to prepare yourself with some research. For example, condoms will merely help prevent Sexually Transmitted Disease (STDs), but they aren’t a sure fire method. The ‘pulling out’ method of contraception can be ineffective against pregnancy, especially in sexually inexperienced males who haven’t yet learned to time their excitement accurately.
Be sure your teen understands the bottom line in order to avoid getting pregnant and contracting STDs, is choosing to abstain from sex, but the waiting until you’re married mantra can seem so infinite and hypocritical for many people. Instead, explain to your teen the importance of waiting to have sex until they are more mature and in a healthy, respected relationship.
Post Pregnancy Life
To further your teen’s education on pregnancy try citing statistics on teenage pregnancy, like teen moms are less likely to finish their education and more likely to live in poverty. These statistics will especially hit home if your teen has big life goals, be sure to circle the conversation back to those and how being a teen parent can hinder those. Point your teen to a reputable agency like Planned Parenthood or StayTeen.org for information and contacts should they have further questions.
If you have a young baby in the family or in your circle of friends, have your teen baby-sit to better learn the responsibilities and stress that come with a child. No kids around? Look into volunteering at a day care or pediatrics center, bonus- the volunteer hours will look good on a college application.
Knowledgeable But Still Want to Be Sexually Active
If your teen knows the ins and outs of sex and is in a deeply committed relationship (at least as deep a relationship as two teenagers can be in), and you suspect they may be sexually active or thinking about it, you need to bluntly ask your child’s intentions. If sexual activity is on your child’s mind, remind him or her about waiting, the importance of condoms, and even consider doctor-prescribed birth control methods for girls.