3 tips to Pregnancy Proof your Teen.

They’re young; they’re hot; and they’re PREGNANT! MTV’s 16 and Pregnant Reality TV superstars are under the legal age limit for drinking, but not for having a baby!

When Bristol Palin announced her pregnancy at 17, America was shocked at the possibility of having an unwed, pregnant teen in the White House. When MTV’s 16 and Pregnant aired for the first time in June 2009, American mothers were paralyzed with fear. Today, the teen pregnancy buzz is all the rage and the question for many parents is, “How can I ‘pregnancy proof’ my teen?” This may be the million-dollar question, and although parents are ultimately unable to make choices for their children, here are a few ways to equip them with the tools for effective decision- making; especially in a culture saturated with provocative media programming.

1. Education

Even though MTV’s 16 & Pregnant is filled with drama, chaos, and poor choices, it has become a creative tool for parents to educate their teens about “what NOT to do!” Programming such as 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom were created in partnership with National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy with the intent to deter teen girls from early motherhood. The shows follow young moms on their quest to attempt to raise their babies while clubbing, going to school, and nurturing toxic relationships with their baby’s fathers. This public service attempt is an effort to educate our society and encourage positive choices. Whether or not this attempt is effective, it does provide an educational tool to provoke conversation and discuss better life choices. In addition to our pop-culture programming, parents can choose a variety of creative ways to address a sensitive topic. (please see additional resources below)

2. Short & Frequent Communication

  • Keep it simple
  • Share your beliefs, but do not expect and/or insist that your teen feels the same way
  • Share personal stories and try not to make the conversation “weird”
  • Attempt to be honest and open with your teen
  • If you are uncomfortable, say so
  • Educate yourself and practice if necessary
  • Maintain eye contact and keep it “light”
  • Avoid anger and/or “knee-jerk” responses during your talk
  • Allow your teen to express him or herself without interruption – Validate and Empathize with their feelings before disagreeing
  • Avoid forcing unsolicited advice – Use Questions to lead them to the solution.
  • Keep your communicative relationship frequent
  • Listen, listen, listen

Remember, sex education and communication is an ongoing process!

3. Encourage Additional Support

Often times, parents struggle to give their children “the talk.” Sex is a touchy subject in many households and, when avoided, can cause detrimental consequences. Parents may benefit from expert assistance through school programs, community services, and counseling. If you have created a comfortable environment for your teen to talk with you, but he/she is hesitant about the “sex” topic, you may benefit from outside resources.

Additional resources: National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy

Aunt Sarah’s List: Things We All Need to Say to Teens and Young Adults
Getting pregnant or causing pregnancy, having babies, and starting families are perhaps the most important things we ever do, with generational effects. These major steps need to be thought about carefully, not stumbled into. We think and talk about so many less important things all the time: what’s for dinner, March Madness brackets, what movie to see this weekend… Surely the event of when to become a parent, with whom, and under what circumstances deserve at least the same amount of time and attention.

iPlan: Tips from Teens for Teens about Life, Love, and Not Getting Pregnant (2009)
When it comes to sex, teens get tons of advice from adults, but they aren’t often asked to offer their own. Crazy right? So we asked teens from all over the country what they thought about relationships, sex, and pregnancy. Here are the 13 answers and opinions that we heard most often.

Parent Power: What Parents Need to Know and Do to Help Prevent Teen Pregnancy (2001)
Whether they believe it or not, parents have a very important influence on whether their teenagers become pregnant or cause a pregnancy. Parent Power offers good news for parents and those who work with, care for, and write about, young people. It compiles much of what is known about parental influences and offers parents practical things they can do to help their children delay sexual activity and avoid teen pregnancy.

If you or someone you know are struggling with teen pregnancy, self-esteem challenges, or unresolved emotional needs, please contact a self-esteem coach!

For More Information or Articles on Self-Esteem and Teen Pregnancy visit our blog.

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