Teenagers are the same as everyone else, because they want to be loved, respected and cared for. Preventing teenage pregnancy does not begin when a child enters puberty, but that is when most adults realize the “sudden onset” of the possibilities of teenage pregnancy. Preventing teenage pregnancy begins when a child is young, because that is when the parents are establishing their relationship with their child.
Parent-Child Relationship Is Critical
Parents are the child’s role model. Parents are the ones to establish behavioral standards and guidelines that will both protect and guide the child through adulthood. When a child respects and values his/her parent(s), the child will usually comply with all the parents’ desires. When a child fears or has little respect for the parent, what the parent says and/or does has little impact on him/her. The closer the relationship, the more opportunities there are for the parent(s) to talk with their child about anything and everything.
No parent can guarantee that their teenager will not have a child. Teenagers believe they are invincible, that nothing can happen to them; it is a thought process that is part of their developmental process. They do not assess risks accurately and, consequently, do not act in ways to prevent consequences of impulsive choices.
The more open can caring parents are with their children, the less fearful the children or teenagers will be about approaching their parents for help, guidance or support. The absolute worst thing a parent can do, ever, is to be judgmental of who and/or what their children may be or do.
When parents take the initiative of talking with their children, they establish that they are interested in who and what is important to their child. Taking an interest in another person demonstrates respect and caring. When adults are too busy or preoccupied to talk with their children, how can they expect their child to come to them when a situation becomes difficult, confusing, problematic, or overwhelming.
Having a history of working together to solve problems, to anticipate problems and devise preventions or approaches that will not result in difficulties or stress allows the teenager the confidence to talk about serious topics with their parents. Sexuality is a very serious (and interesting) topic for teenagers, because their bodies are changing and they are no longer in control of emotions, sensations, and reactions. Open conversations covering the facts of human maturation, means of practicing birth control, options and consequences of unwanted pregnancies, costs and responsibilities of becoming a parent need to happen before a child becomes capable of becoming a parent.
As uncomfortable as a parent may be discussing these topics with their child, it would be far more uncomfortable to deal with the consequences of becoming a grandparent before you and your child are ready for the responsibilities of a baby.