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Talking about Pregnancy and Abstinence with Teens

Updated on October 3, 2015
Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah is the mother of four grown daughters, seven grandchildren, a retired educator, and former Girl Scout leader and school volunteer.

Talk to Your Teens About Abstinence When They Begin Dating

By the time they go to prom, they may be already intimate with each other.  Be sure they know the facts before they start dating.  Don't lecture them; just be honest, instead.
By the time they go to prom, they may be already intimate with each other. Be sure they know the facts before they start dating. Don't lecture them; just be honest, instead. | Source

Preventing Teen Pregnancy and Abortions

Many parents are very uncomfortable when it comes time to provide information about pregnancy, birth control and abstinence to their teens. However, by the time teens have begun to date, it is vitally essential to provide them with the basic facts so that they are not mislead by their peers. Many schools in the United States do not offer comprehensive health education classes until students are seniors in high school. By that time the majority of the teens are legal adults and they have been dating for two or more years. During those years, uneducated teens are very vulnerable to making life changing mistakes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2009 there were 367,752 live births in the United States to teen mothers between the ages of 15 and 19. This data does not include pregnancies that where intentionally terminated. Many of these hundreds of thousands of pregnancies could have been prevented if the teens had been provided with information about pregnancy, abstinence and birth control at an earlier age.

One reason parents are reluctant to discuss these topics is because they do not want to imply that they are giving their teens permission to become intimate with each other. It is important that parents emphasize their family values and their religious beliefs when they discuss these topics with their children.

In addition, one of the advantages of giving them a thorough education is that the more they know, the more likely they are to realize the risks involved. Telling kids about pregnancy, abstinence and the dangers of certain types of teenage behaviors is not likely to be misunderstood by a teenager as giving them permission to engage in these behaviors, especially when their parents emphasize the dangers.

Even if your child rolls his or her eyes, and seems disinterested, talk to them anyway. They are listening; they just don't want to seem too interested in what you have to say.

Uncomfortable With the Discussion? Give Them an Excellent Book Like this One to Start the Conversation.

The Bare Naked Truth: Dating, Waiting, and God’s Purity Plan
The Bare Naked Truth: Dating, Waiting, and God’s Purity Plan

This book is approved by many Christian groups as a way to discuss abstinence and boy-girl relationships with your teens before they find themselves in an uncomfortable or embarrassing situation.


Stress Abstinence

The first thing you should let any teen know is that the only completely effective form of birth control is abstinence. It is also the most effective way of preventing STD's. It is crucially important that teens understand that abstinence is the only 100% effective defense against both pregnancy and these tragic, and sometimes incurable, diseases.

You may also want to explain to them that some types of activity that will prevent pregnancy, may not protect them against all the different types of STD's. Any time they come into intimate contact with the private parts of their partner's body, or their partner's body fluids, they are putting themselves at risk for serious diseases that could last a lifetime. Some of these illnesses could even affect any children them may have in the future.

Talk About Birth Control

Although most parents are uncomfortable with giving their teens information about pregnancy and birth control, statistics show that the majority of teenagers will engage in intimate activity with each other by the time they are 19. Because of this, it is vitally important that their parents give them information about birth control.

You will want to start by talking to them about the most common types of birth control, such as the pill, foam spermicides and condoms. You will want to begin with the condom, since this is the type of birth control used most often by teenagers.

Explain to them that condoms will provide SOME defense against pregnancy and STD's, but only if they are always used correctly, and used all of the time. In addition, the male must withdraw from the female before ejaculation, or the sperm can leak out of the condom! Condoms also do not prevent all types of STD's. For example, it is still possible to pass on the herpes virus, which is not curable.

When a condom is used, it is advisable to combine it with another type of birth control, such as a foam spermicide, to increase the effectiveness. This combination seems to also work to inhibit the HIV virus, although it is not 100% effective against that, either. Foam does not prevent many other types of STD's.

Other Forms of Birth Control

While they are paying attention (even if they are pretending not to), this is the time to tell them that there are other forms of birth control that may be especially useful once they are married and in a committed relationship. These types of birth control include the pill, the patch, a vaginal ring, a diaphram, an implant in the arm, or an IUD. Try to remain calm and matter-of-fact as you explain how these methods work, and their limitations and disadvantages.

For example, let your teen know that they will have to see a doctor to obtain any of these products. They must be used correctly. For example, the pill must be taken every day, at the same time each day. The vaginal ring and diaphragm must be inserted properly in order to be effective.

In addition, be sure to let your teen know that none of these methods will do anything to prevent an STD! Therefore, it is advisable that they be used in combination with a condom if they are used prior to marriage. Even so, there are no guarantees.

Once you have had this discussion with your child, encourage them to get more information from reputable web sites, such as WebMD or from books you give them. One religious group that provides excellent educational material for conservative families is Focus on the Family. You can find a number of excellent books on their website. These books provide honest information, while making it clear that the ideal situation is to wait until marriage before becoming intimate with a partner.

After a relaxed conversation about this with your teen and giving them sources for additional information, you will know that your child will be less vulnerable to peer pressure to engage in these types of behaviors before they are ready. As a parent, that is often the best you can do.

Information for Teenage Boys So They Have the Real Facts - Not Just What They Will Learn From Other Boys

What do you think about this topic?

Do you believe parents should discuss pregnancy and abstinence with their children?

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    • m abdullah javed profile image

      muhammad abdullah javed 2 years ago

      Deborah it's one of the best hubs that I have come across with, it deals with every bit of a very sensitive issue, added to this is an effective selection of the books. I strongly feel this write up needs to be circulated widley. Thanks for sharing.

    • Deborah-Diane profile image

      Deborah-Diane 2 years ago from Orange County, California

      Thank you, ezzly! When I worked at a high school, I was shocked at how little the high school seniors knew when they took the health class that was required for graduation. When parents fail to educate their children on this topic, they leave their children open to a lot of misinformation.

    • ezzly profile image

      ezzly 2 years ago

      Thank you for speaking so openly about this, it's a subject many parents and children are often to embarrassed to broach, yet it is one that is absolutely paramount for the safety of teens as hormones rage etc. Voted up !

    • Deborah-Diane profile image

      Deborah-Diane 3 years ago from Orange County, California

      I agree that this is a discussion that should start with the parents ... not the schools or anyone else.

    • vandynegl profile image

      vandynegl 3 years ago from Ohio Valley

      Very interesting read! My children are not teens yet, but my husbands brother has already had classes on these topics that started in the 5th grade. When I was in school, we learned them in 6th grade. So around where I live, it is not put off until the senior year. However, it must come from the parents first. My young children are taught a little bit here and there, such as keeping your "privates" to themselves, never touching another's privates, etc. I am in no way looking forward to the teen years.

      Good writing!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 3 years ago from North Texas

      I took a lot of classes in sex education at the university because I believe this is an important subject that most people are way too uncomfortable with. Sex and procreation are a natural part of life and I really believe if more people had a healthy attitude about it, there would be fewer problems and stronger marriages.

      I taught my daughter the nuts and bolts along with placing a lot of emphasis on responsibility for our actions and behavior. This 'talk' needs to begin very early in life so that the idea of responsibility going hand in hand with sexual activity is second nature.

      Sharing this important article again . .

    • WriterJanis profile image

      Janis 3 years ago from California

      As awkward as it may be, this is important to talk about. Glad you wrote about this as it will encourage other parents to talk to their kids.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 3 years ago from North Texas

      Such an important issue and I believe a parent can't begin instilling responsible choices too early. Sharing this again . . .

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

      This is a subject often avoided by parents but also a very important one. I hope this Hub gives parents the information they need to help their teens make wise and safe decisions.

    • Deborah-Diane profile image

      Deborah-Diane 4 years ago from Orange County, California

      Thank you Au Fait. I agree that these topics should be discussed with children at an early age.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      Came back to share this again because it is such an important issue. Personally, I think it's best to start discussing this subkect when children are young and still listening. That is when programming responsibility and good judgment into their spongy brains has the best results.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      An excellent article and a subject that might be good to cover with young adults going off to college. I agree that prevention is so much better than having to deal with an event and I really think this discussion should have taken place when they were much younger. I think most children can handle this information responsibly when given a chance. I started talking with my daughter about these issues when she was just 2 years old.

      Sharing with my followers.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      This is a useful hub that lots of people need to read. An important issue even though unplanned pregnancies among teenagers and young people, as well as abortions, are fewer than in previous years.

      I've pinned this to my "Education" board, and I'm following you on Pinterest now. You should put your button on your profile page so other hubbers can follow too.

    • Deborah-Diane profile image

      Deborah-Diane 4 years ago from Orange County, California

      I am also happy that my children are grown and I no longer have to have this discussion with them. However, I work in a high school by assisting in science and health classes. I am shocked by how little many high school seniors know! Some of their questions I cannot repeat here. I have even had kids tell me that they don't worry about AIDS because it has been cured! High school students are having sex and they don't know some basic facts about the risks and consequences. I'm sure many parents would be shocked if they listened in on some of these classes and they would be more than happy to have a heart-to-heart talk with their children!

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      I'm glad my days are over for talking to teens about sex. Interesting hub. voted up.

    • Deborah-Diane profile image

      Deborah-Diane 4 years ago from Orange County, California

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful and well-developed comments. I couldn't agree with you more. I believe that we need to give children more information, since they already know the basics and they often misuse it. I loved that you said it is often the parents who are innocent, not their children. This is so true!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      An important subject that is often discussed with children too seldom and too late.

      I have taken several classes on sexuality at the university thinking I might go into sex education so this subject doesn't make me even slightly uncomfortable, but I know it does have that affect on most people. As a result their children are left to learn about this subject through books, films, and gossip.

      Children need to have information about sex far sooner than it is provided by parents and educators. By the time parents and teachers get around to instructing, most children have already read the 'dirty' books and whispered about the subject, maybe even watched some films or tried some things out.

      Yes, unfortunately there are a lot of 5th graders experimenting behind their parents' backs. Sexual innuendo begins even before that. The reason many young people roll their eyes when their parents finally get around to bringing up the subject of sex is because they believe they already know all that their parents are likely to say and more. It isn't because the subject embarrasses them. They talk about it frequently with their friends and peers.

      While a lot of what children think they know about sex is incomplete or wrong, they often know more than what their parents are embarrassedly trying to tell them.

      It is the parent's innocence that is being preserved by refusing to discuss the subject of sex with their children matter-of-factly, not the children's. The children will learn about this subject very early if they are in public school or other situations where there are lots of children, or other children who are not so protected from reality.

      It is the parents who blissfully and mistakenly imagine that they are protecting their children from this information by refusing to discuss the subject of sex. While parents have their heads securely buried in the sand, their children are exchanging sexual innuendo, reading books that include sexual acts, and unfortunately many children are even participating in sexual acts that would shock their 'innocent' parents if only they knew.

      Instructions about sex and instilling a sense of responsibility regarding sex needs to begin much earlier. I started discussing sex with my daughter when she was just 2 years old, even before she could talk. Today at more than 24 years of age, she has a healthy attitude about sex, and has never had an STD or a pregnancy. I really believe children can be trusted with knowledge and information about sex, and are less likely to seek that information and knowledge through books, films, and behaviors when the correct information is provided for them.

      There is no perfect solution. There will always be a few people who are irresponsible no matter what. That is not a reason to keep the rest of a population uninformed and at risk in their pursuit of information and knowledge. In fact, children taught responsibility along with other facts about sex might very well influence the risk takers in their environment to be more responsible as well.