I worry my teen is at risk for teenage pregnancy, what I can do?
By: Janae Webb, MS.Ed Therapist
Some teens experiment with high-risk behavior without completely thinking through the consequences of their actions. Maintaining a strong relationship with your teen is key in helping the teen through this time in her life. Teens need caring adults in their lives to help them think through their decisions. This relationship you have with your teen is critical in the next steps you take.
1. Most experts agree that it is important to educate teens on the risks of sex. This can be done in response to something on TV. It provides an opportunity to ask your teen if he or she understands what is being said and what he or she thinks about it. You can then answer questions and give additional information when you begin to suspect that he or she needs more information. This is also a good time to teach your attitudes and beliefs about sex. It is also vital to discuss the risks such as pregnancy and STD’s. If the parent chooses, forms of protection such as birth control and condoms may also need to be discussed. It should also be noted that the only birth control that is 100% effective is abstinence. The difference males and females have in the perception or meaning of sex may also be a valuable topic of discussion.
2. Be there to answer questions. Common questions teens have about sex include:
- How will I know when I’m in love?
- How do I handle pressure from my boyfriend/girlfriend to have sex?
- Will having sex bring me closer to my boyfriend/girlfriend?
- Can I get pregnant the first time?
3. Know what your teen is doing and who he or she is with. Set boundaries and establishing curfews, rules, and expectations.
4. Keep the teen busy with enjoyable activities that are useful. Guide your teen in finding activities that he or she is passionate about and feels most like themselves doing.
5. Nurture the relationship with your teen: Continue spending one on one time with your teen. Let your teen know you are there to listen and want to hear what they have to say. They will be more likely to honor and respect what you say when they know you respect their opinion.
6. Encourage the value in education. Helping your teen to see options for his or her future that are more beneficial than early pregnancy may decrease the chance that he or she would take the risk of becoming pregnant.
7. A counselor can be valuable in the process of helping your teen. A counselor can help everyone to feel heard in the midst of conflict, provide an objective source of facts about sex and teen pregnancy, and provide support and guidance in navigating this time in your family’s life.
Being available to answer questions, talking to a counselor, and listening to the teen’s perspective while sharing your own views and setting boundaries on what they do with their time are important in the prevention of teen pregnancy. With open communication, the process becomes smoother while everyone feels heard.