Three Keys for Talking About Teen Pregnancy

By Scott Phelps

On the cover of the current issue of OK magazine, Jamie Lynn Spears proclaims:  “I’m pregnant.”  Spears is the sixteen year old sister of pop star Brittany Spears, and star of the popular Nickelodeon TV show “Zoey 101.”  Now media outlets are issuing the obligatory “talk to your kids about contraception” (See for example, “New York Times, December 21, 2007: TV’s Perfect Girl Is Pregnant; Real Families Talk”).  However, since according to the National Center for Health Statistics, 94% of sexually active teen girls claim to already use contraception, we would suggest another approach.  Below are “Three Keys” which can help in talking to your teens and pre-teens.

1. Jump In. 

Don’t be afraid to address the subject, and don’t wait for them to bring it up.  They’ve already heard about it at school, friends or the media.  Let them know that you know, and that it’s an important subject.  This is actually a good opportunity to talk about this important issue.

2. Ask Questions.

The most effective way to communicate with your teen is to ask questions, and then listen to the answer.  It’s important not to rush right into what you want to say, but to give your teen an opportunity to talk about it first.  This is a great opportunity to find out what they are thinking, and how much work you have to do!

3. Be Clear.

After asking questions, give them clear guidance.  Pregnancy is a good thing, however, if you’re not married this presents a challenge for everyone involved:  mother, father, child, families, and friends.  Regardless of your personal experience, it’s important to explain that marriage is not only the safest, healthiest context for sexual activity, but it’s also best for raising children.    Sometimes parents are afraid to talk about marriage because of their own experience, and as a result, kids end up confused.  Challenging as it may be, teach your kids well:  Sex is good.  Pregnancy is good.  Marriage is good.  Teach your teens that these things need to go together for a healthy family life and society.