Thursday, September 11, 2008

Let's Talk About Sex, Baby

It seems like everyone is going crazy since the news came out that Bristol Palin is 17 and pregnant.  I haven't seen this much attention on teen pregnancy since the Jaime-Lynn Spears story.  Obviously unplanned teen pregnancies are a major problem...in fact the number of teen pregnancies was up in 2006 after going down for over ten years.  This seems like the sort of issue that should be talked about constantly but only comes up when a high profile teen gets pregnant.  

Many people don't know that the United States has the highest rate of teen pregnancy and these pregnancies and births cost the US $7 billion a year!  Every year 750,000 teen girls will get pregnant.  2/3 of these new moms will never graduate from high school.  Some teens are so young or inexperienced that the role of caring for these babies will fall on the grandparents.  2.5 million grandparents in the US are the primary caregivers for their grandkids!

I recall the "sex talk" was definitely one of the most awkward times of my life but how do you teach your kids about all of this stuff?  The better way would be to have a constant dialogue going with them instead of just sitting down one day & letting everything out at once.  Ask them about their feelings on sex, what's going on at their school, in the media, and what their friends are saying about it.  Be approachable so your child will feel comfortable coming to you with questions (and make sure you are prepared with the right answers!).  Get them involved in activities and sports so they aren't bored all the time...two bored unsupervised teens may lead to experimenting.  Keep an eye on your teen if they have a boyfriend or girlfriend...at this age they should not be in serious relationships with the opposite sex.  Explain to them all of the problems associated with unsafe sex including pregnancy and STDs.  Most importantly, know what your child is doing and where they hang out.  Open your home for your teen & their friends to hang out so you can keep an eye on them.  Explain abstinence and how it is the only 100% guaranteed way to steer clear of pregnancy and STDs.  If you believe that abstinence is what's best for them, that's ok and absolutely tell them how you feel.  Lately there has been a lot of talk about promise rings and this might be an option for you.  However, don't be naive and think that they will go along with it forever.  The reality is that most older teenagers are having sex so make sure they know all about birth control, condoms, and how to have safe sex. If they are going to do it, they might as well be as safe as possible.


4 comments:

Mommy Brain said...

The reason Bristol Palin's pregnancy is getting so much attention is that her mother feels that only abstinence should be taught.

Danielle said...

This is such a tricky issue. I definitely think it should be an open dialogue with kids that starts young- names of body parts-etc- and then grows as kids grow. My parents had a big influence on me not to get pregnant before I graduated college. However, it is very hard to talk to teens because they have that ew gross mom- ewe grss dad attitude. I dread the day! I am just going to put Eliza in a little bubble and never let her gorw up.

Nicole said...

The reason Bristol Palin's pregnancy is getting so much attention is that her mother is running for VP!

Yes, we should be talking to our kids about sex: whether that means abstinence or safe sex.

We should also be talking about ADOPTION!!! Hello? Why are all these young girls raising these babies? If marriage is not an option, adoption should be choice number 2. Single parenthood, especially by a teenager, should be WAY down the list of options. Lets give these kids a chance! The babies and the teens would benefit SIGNIFICANTLY if an adoption plan was made. Every baby deserves to have a mom and a dad. Every teen deserves the right to grow up!

Christy said...

Weird that you wrote this, because I am watching Juno right this very second.