One of the biggest influences as to whether or not a teenager becomes sexually active and as a consequence becomes another teen pregnancy statistic has to do with parental relationships. Most teenagers actually rate their parents high on the list of people they trust to give them accurate information about birth control and sex. You can help your teenager understand the risks of teen pregnancy by speaking with him or her about how you feel. Here are ten things The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy recommends that you can do to help prevent teen pregnancy:
- Talk to your teenager about your own sexual values and attitudes. Openly telling your teen how you feel about sexual activity can help guide your teenager into thinking about these issues for herself or himself. It can be especially helpful for you to make known your sentiments about the importance of birth control.
- Talk about sex early and often. Because most teenagers trust their parents on the subject of sex and birth control, you are likely to be the first person questions are directed at. By openly talking about sex in an age-appropriate way, you can teach your teenager how to behave responsibly. Having “the talk” once and then avoiding the subject further is not helpful. Also, make sure that you talk about the positives of appropriate sex. This will help them understand the meaning of sexual relationships, and help them feel more comfortable developing their attitudes and taking a stand against teenage intercourse, or insisting on the use of birth control. Be sure to ask them what they think; don’t make it one big lecture.
- Establish rules and behavioral standards. Supervise your teenager and establish expectations for them. These expectations should not be onerous, but most teenagers prefer to know what is expected of them in behavior. Know where your teenager is, and establish a curfew with the help of respectful and reasonable discussion with your teenager.
- Know your teen’s friends and their parents. You can do a lot to prevent teen pregnancy simply by knowing whom your teenager is hanging out with. Get to know your teen’s friends, and arrange to meet their parents. This way you can establish common expectations. Make sure your home is an open environment that other teens feel comfortable in.
- Discourage early steady dating. Teen pregnancies are more likely to happen as the result of prolonged relationships. By encouraging your teen to date a variety of people in high school, you can help cut the risk of teen pregnancy.
- Discourage your teenager dating others with significant differences in age. A teenage girl who dates a much older boy is more likely to become pregnant. You should take a stand against your daughter dating much older (more than two years) men, and take a stand against your son dating much younger girls.
- Show your teenager that there is more to life. Many teens feel that parenthood and pregnancy are their only options. Make sure that you encourage your teen and let her or him see that there are other things that they can do before starting a family.
- Be vocal about your value for education. Encouraging your teen to get a good education, and paying attention to his or her progress in school can go a long way toward preventing teen pregnancy.
- Know what your kids are doing. What does your teen watch, listen to and read? Society today is awash in messages about sex and pregnancy (most of them depicting it as without consequences and easy). Know the video games, Internet site, books, music and TV shows your teen watches. Talk about them. Ask your teen what he or she thinks, and whether or not it is realistic. Explain why they are not allowed to consume different types of media.
- Develop a close relationship. The above tips work only if there is a basis for trust and a good relationship. Preventing teen pregnancy is not something that you can wait to begin working on. Rather, the foundation for teen pregnancy prevention should be laid years before and close relationship developed prior to the teen years.
Teen Pregnancy Prevention Sources:
- “Ten Tips For Parents to Help Their Children Avoid Teen Pregnancy,” The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. [Online.]