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Teen Pregnancy: What Can Parents Do?
Be clear about your own sexual attitudes and values.
- What do you really think about teens being sexually active?
- Who is responsible for setting sexual limits in a relationship, and how is that done?
- Were you sexually active as a teen and how do you feel about that now?
Talk with your children early and often, and be specific.
- Make it an 18-year conversation.
- Help young people understand the context and meaning of sex, not just how body parts work.
- Ask teens what they think and what worries them.
Be a parent with opinions. Such as:
- Sex should be associated with commitment, so I think you are too young to have sex.
- If you do have sex, always use contraception until you are ready to have a child.
- Our family’s values say that sex should be an expression of love within marriage. I expect you to wait.
Supervise and monitor your children.
- Establish rules, curfews, and standards of expected behavior through open family discussions.
Know your children’s friends and their families.
- Meet the parents of your children’s friends.
- Try to establish common rules and expectations.
Discourage early, frequent, steady dating.
- One-on-one dating before age 16 can lead to trouble.
- Make your strong feelings known about this early so it doesn’t appear as though you don’t like the particular person or invitation.
Take a strong stand against your child dating someone older.
- Try setting a limit of a no more than two or three year age difference.
- The power differences created by these age disparities can lead to risky situations.
Help your teen have more attractive options for the future than early pregnancy.
- Help them set meaningful goals for the future.
- Talk to them about what it takes to reach their goals.
- Explain how teen pregnancy can derail the best of plans.
Let your children know you value education highly.
- Set high expectations about school performance—school failure is often a sign of other trouble.
- Know homework assignments and support your child in getting them done.
- Volunteer at school, if possible.
Talk to your sons as well as your daughters.
- The 820,000 teen girls who get pregnant each year in the U.S. don’t do it alone!
- Boys need to know that teen pregnancy has serious consequences for them too.
- Having sex doesn’t make you a man; waiting until you are responsible and ready does.
Know what your children are watching, reading, and listening to.
- Encourage your children to think critically about the media they use.
- Watch their favorite shows with them and use the opportunity as a discussion-starter.