Talking With Teens

While rates of teenage pregnancy declined for a number of years with the increased use of condoms, recent evidence points to rising rates of unplanned adolescent pregnancies once again.

Role of Parents in Preventing Pregnancy

According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, parents play an important role in influencing their children's sexual activity and can help prevent teen pregnancies. Among the many pieces of advice offered for parents are:

•- Show interest in your teenager's life; keep the lines of communication open; demonstrate unconditional love

•- Discourage early and steady dating (encourage group outings and activities)

•- Teach your teenager how to say "no" to sex and how to conduct themselves in peer pressure situations

•- Prepare young adults on how to avoid pregnancy by providing them with comprehensive information on birth control, talking openly about sex and contraception, as well as feelings regarding sex

•- Openly discuss values, morals, and relevant religious beliefs

•- Model responsible behavior: kids learn by example, so if parents demonstrate responsibility and good communication in their relationships, children are likely to do the same

•- Discuss teenagers' goals and dreams (i.e. educational and career goals, traveling) and how a pregnancy could interfere with these plans

•- Set firm limits/curfews for teenagers and reinforce them (they will thank you later!)

•- Express confidence in your teen's ability to make good choices

•- Let them know you are available and open to listen and answer questions

Parents of Pregnant Teenagers

While the news that one's teenage daughter or son is pregnant oftentimes sends parents into a state of shock, anger, disappointment, tears, and/or confusion, parents must take charge of their emotions before they can help their children. Casting blame is useless at this point; pregnant teens need guidance, support, reliable information, and resources.

Parents of pregnant teenagers can help in the following ways:


•- Let your adolescent know he/she is not alone

•- Locate local services

•- Book doctor appointments and offer to accompany them

•- Locate support groups (for the pregnant teenager and for the parents)

•- Carefully weigh the pros and cons of all available options (abortion, adoption, raising the baby as a couple or single parent, child care, financial issues, etc.)

Support for Teenage Fathers


While teenage boys do not have deal with the physical aspects of pregnancy, they will need support/counsel/advice regarding emotional issues, legal issues (i.e. responsibilities and options), communicating with his partner's parents, fatherhood expectations/obligations, decisions regarding school and/or joining the workforce, etc. Teenage boys with a pregnant partner are advised to contact their local health or youth services, or the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.


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