Teach your teen to be a teen first, a parent later

May 20, 2016 | by Julie Jensen, M.D.
Categories: Healthy Driven Moms

Roughly 3 in 10 teens will become pregnant by age 20. Although the teen birth rate in the U.S. is currently at an all-time low, it remains much higher than rates in other developed nations.

Teen pregnancy and childbearing is hard on the parents, their children and society. Only about half of teen moms receive a high school diploma by age 22, compared with 90 percent of women who did not have a teen birth. Teen moms are also more likely to rely on public assistance and be poor as adults.

The children of teen parents are more likely to:

  • Have poor academic performance and drop out of high school
  • Have more behavioral problems
  • Be incarcerated at some time during adolescence
  • Face unemployment as a young adult
  • Become teen moms themselves
  • Have more health problems

Most teens have never really thought about how getting pregnant or getting someone else pregnant would affect their lives. Parents play an important role in helping teens make healthy choices about sex, birth control and relationships.

In fact, research suggests children want to talk to their parents about their sex-related questions and that parents influence their decisions about sex more than friends do. Learn what teens want to hear from their parents.

Need help talking to your teen about pregnancy prevention? The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services offers these tips for parents:

  • Be clear and specific about your expectations around dating and sexual behavior. Establish rules and curfews, and be there to monitor and supervise.
  • Discourage early dating.
  • Establish regular visits with a medical provider for your child.
  • Talk about your teen’s future, encourage participation in school and community activities, and support their aspirations. Point out how teen pregnancy would get in the way of their goals.

There are resources for teens too. Created by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, Stay Teen is a website just for teens—to encourage them to avoid the responsibilities that come with too-early pregnancy and parenting.

Throughout the month of May — National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month — teens are asked to take a quiz to see how they would react “in the moment,” because the best time for teens to think about they would handle a tough decision about sex is before they have to make it.

The National Campaign also offers online lessons for teens preventing unplanned pregnancy and completing college. 

Do you have any advice about preventing teen pregnancy? Share in the below comments!

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