Despite the great gains in reducing the number of teen pregnancies in the last decades, there are still considerable steps to be taken in this arena. 4Parents.org estimates that one in three girls in the United Stated become pregnant before their 20th birthday. That is an astonishing statistic! As parents, we need to talk to our children about their sexual and reproductive health. Not doing so can lead to misinformation or worse yet, to a lack of vital and accurate information which can permanently alter their lives and the lives of those around them.
Although most parents dread the birds and the bees talk with their children, here are some things to keep in mind:
- It is important that you talk to your children in age appropriate terms and give them the information they are ready to hear. However, avoid making assumptions about their level of knowledge or understanding. Ask them what they know. They might know more than you think or may not be sure of what sex means at all. This gives you the chance to clear up any misconceptions.
- If you feel that a book would be helpful, search for one that can help guide your talk according to your child’s age.
- Even when tweens or teens act as if they do not care whether you talk to them about it or not, they do care. Many of us remember our own parents having the “talk” with us. If your parents did not, you have the opportunity to change this and open the lines of communication between you and your child. This is essential for creating a dialogue.
- Do not let the internet and/or poorly-informed friends become the primary sources of information for your child. You want to be able to influence how your teen makes decisions about their sexual behavior. This can only happen if you take responsibility for providing them with the right tools.
- Have the talk with your daughters and your sons! It takes two to tango… daughters cannot get pregnant alone. Sexual responsibility is not gender-specific.
As a parent, you have the most influence over the sexual behaviors of your teens, even over the media, teachers or friends. Use this power to make a difference in your teen’s life. Talking with them will not hurt… not doing it, just might.
May is National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month! Make a difference… talk to your teen.
Photo by lovesteph83 at flickr