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Talking about Pregnancy and Abstinence with Teens
Talk to Your Teens About Abstinence When They Begin Dating
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.
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.
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.