While teen pregnancy rates have been on the decline, U.S. teens are still topping the charts among the most-developed countries in the world. Three in 10 teen U.S. girls will get pregnant at least once before age 20. That’s nearly 750,000 teen pregnancies every year.
Parents: Did you know that the month of May is National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month? Whether you have early to mid-teen girls or boys (tweens), or older teens, the following 15 tips can help you to help your teens avoid getting involved with teen pregnancy, which is no fun for all those who are affected.
- Talk with your children and teens about sex early, often and honestly. Be sure they know that there’s nothing they can’t talk with you about, and encourage them to ask you anything they want to, like about sex, drugs, or anything else.
- If you’re uncomfortable talking to your children about something that you expect to come up, talk to a friend about it first, or even rehearse how you will discuss it.
- If your child asks you something you don’t know the answer to, say that you want to check up on something related to that before you discuss it. Then, be sure to prepare yourself and raise the subject again soon.
- Take advantage of talkable situations, such as:
– during or after situations in TV programs
– after situations in the movies
– while having dinner if it’s a relaxed meal
– during trips – walking, long distance travel, etc.
- Maintain a close relationship with your children and teens as they grow up.
- Consider your own attitudes about sex, love, and related things, so that you can effectively communicate them to your children. Also explain to your children in detail why you feel the way you do.
- Establish rules, curfews, and standards of behavior, including what children are to do during the hours after school, and who is responsible for them.
- Know the friends of your children
- Discourage and delay early (before 16 years old) and steady (one-on-one) dating while encouraging group activities.
- Don’t agree to a daughter dating a boy more than two years older than she is, or a son developing a strong relationship with a girl much younger or a woman much older than he is.
- Help your teenagers identify career or adult goals that are more attractive than teen pregnancy and teen parenthood.
- Emphasize how important you consider education to be, and point out that a good education is closely tied to a person’s future opportunities. To show how important you think education is, be very attentive to your children’s school requirements, and performance.
- Know who your children are talking to on the Internet, and what they are watching and listening to. If you don’t know anything about computers, cell phones and other “high tech” equipment, learn enough about them to block out certain things, and to set standards about the amount of time spent on them daily.
- Know what else your children are watching, listening to and reading– on TV, in the movies, in magazines, regarding music, etc, and be sure your views about them are known. Remember, you should control the environment in your home.
- Strengthen your relationship with your children through such activities as:
- Showing your love through words, hugs, etc., giving material things is not a substitute for this
- Spending time with your children doing things that they enjoy
- Listening to your children a lot, not just talking to them – listening more than you talk during two way communications
- Eating meals together as a family as often as possible
- Help your children build their self-esteem, which often happens when they do something well, accomplish a skill, etc.
- Respect your children, just as you expect them to respect you.
Note: Some recommendations in this Tip Sheet are from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, one of our cross-linked web partners. Visit them at www.thenationalcampaign.org.
Remember the Health Power motto, or tagline: Knowledge + Action = Power!®