Teenage moms aren’t a rarity. Just turn on MTV, and you’ll have the option to look at plenty of child-rearing young ladies going through a stressful combination of motherhood and high school angst. Having taught in New York City public schools for eight years, I have seen plenty of teenage mothers, and for most (meaning most of the students with children I have encountered) of them their academic life stops at high school. Now yes, statistics show that there has actually been in a decline in the amount of teenage mothers since a peak in the 1990s, I still have a serious request for all of you: talk to your children about sex
Look, this should be a no-brainer. I mean I could just as easily replace “talk to your kids about sex” with “talk to your children about their friends, their likes and dislikes, the movies, their favorite music” and I’d still make a valid point. Talk to your children. When I am standing in front of a class full of children, the ones with the least amount of issues (all teenagers have issues. Come to think of it, so do all adults.) tend to be the ones whose parents talk to them.
But before you talk to your kids about sex, there are a few things you should know.
Abstinence only education doesn’t work: Yes, the best way not to get pregnant is not to have sex, but let’s face it, children don’t always behave like the obedient robots we sometimes hope they’ll be. Your children might have sex. And if, instead of ramming into their heads that sex before marriage is bad, why not also ram into their heads that in the (you hope unlikely) event they “do it” they’ll use condoms.
Talk to them, don’t preach to them: Tell your kids what your hopes are for them, ask them what they’ve heard from their friends. Ask them their thoughts. Listen to what they have to say. Yes, you’re the parent. Yes, it’s your responsibility to provide them guidance and values, but for the love of all that is good and holy in the world, talk to them. Speaking without listening just makes your children realize that you’re not listening and prevents them from opening up to you in the future.
Use the actual words: Use “sex” and “condoms,” not euphemisms. Euphemisms make serious things dirty, secretive, or juvenile.
I am not trying to indoctrinate you into when to “allow” your children to have sex. I am a religious Catholic, and anti-abortion (and anti-death penalty and a vegetarian before you accuse me of being inconsistent.), so I’m not saying to let your sons and daughters frolic in the street and get to know the entire town, but sex happens. You can ignore your children and become a young grandparent, or you can converse with them and let them be prepared in the event something happens.