For overprotective parents, the idea of preventing teen pregnancy probably involves locking a child in a castle tower until his or her 18th birthday. However, in the real world teens face all sorts of external and internal pressures about having sex. If you want to protect your child against the dangers of pregnancy, you’ve got to start an open and honest dialogue with them. Here are a few tips for getting that conversation started and putting your teen on the road to prevention.
Begin the conversation
Preventing teen pregnancy has to start at home. Discussing the risks of sex with your teenagers is one of the most important ways you can prevent them from making risky decisions in the future. When starting a conversation, be honest about your feeling on pregnancy and clearly lay out your expectations for them. Most importantly, don’t try to cram everything you want to say into just one talk—instead, you should be discussing this issue frequently with your teen.
Discuss the risks of teen pregnancy
Teen pregnancy is a much more risky process than adult childbirth. Teen mothers are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure and anemia, and their children are at a higher risk of premature birth, low birth weight, and sudden infant death syndrome. While the purpose of sharing these facts isn’t to scare your teen into abstinence, it’s important that they know the possibilities beforehand.
Help develop goals for the future
One of the best ways to prevent teen pregnancy is by helping your child set goals for the future. If he or she is focused on personal development or learning a new skill, there will be less time to be tempted by situations that can potentially lead to pregnancy. Additionally, you can point out to your teen how an unplanned baby might jeopardize the plans he or she has already made.
Know your teen’s influences
Knowing your teen’s influences obviously involves taking an interest in who he or she is hanging out with, but it also involves knowing the types of media that’s being listened to and watched. Sex is quite commonplace in television and movies these days, and it’s not always portrayed in the most positive or healthy way. While seeing these negative depictions does not necessarily mean that your teen will engage in risky behavior, it’s important to at least know that these depictions are on his or her radar.
Don’t forget to listen
Chances are your child has some thoughts of his or her own on teen pregnancy. Make sure you offer plenty of opportunities to voice these opinions and be a contributing member of the conversation. If a teen’s ideas about sex don’t line up perfectly with yours, don’t panic—that’s why you’re having these conversations. Let him or her express feelings, but then explain why your values about sex are important to you.
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