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Talking to Your Teen about Sex

The National Campaign gives the following 10 tips for parents to help their children avoid teen pregnancy. We welcome your responses and advice.

This information is taken verbatim, with some extracted for conciseness, from The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

1.Be clear about your own sexual values and attitudes. Communicating with your children about sex, love, and relationships is often more successful when you are clear in your own mind about these issues.

2. Talk with your children early and often about sex, and be specific. Young people have lots of questions about sex, love, and relationships.  And they often say that the source they’d most like to go to for answers is their parents.  Start the conversation, and make sure that it is honest, open, and respectful.

3. Supervise and monitor your children and adolescents. Establish rules, curfews, and standards of expected behavior, preferably through an open process of family discussion and respectful communication.  Supervising and monitoring your kids’ wheareabouts doesn’t make you a nag; it makes you a parent.

4. Know your children’s friends and their families. Friends have a strong influence on each other, so help your children and teenagers become friends with kids whose families share your values.

5. Discourage early, frequent, and steady dating. Group activities among young people are fine and often fun, but allowing teens to begin one-on-one dating much before age 16 can lead to trouble.  Let your child know about your strong preference about this throughout childhood don’t wait until your young teen proposes a plan that differs from your preferences in this area; otherwise he or she will think you just don’t like the particular person.

6. Take a strong stand against your daughter dating a boy significantly older than she is. And don’t allow your son to develop an intense relationship with a girl much younger than he is.  Older guys can seem glamorous to a young girl.  But the risk of matters getting out of hand increases when the guy is much older than the girl.  Try setting a limit of no more than a two (or at most three) year age differences.  The power differences between older boys and or men and younger girls can lead girls into risky situations, including unwanted sex and sex with no protection.

7. Help your teenagers to have options for the future that are more attractive than early pregnancy and parenthood. The chances that your son or daughter will delay having sex, pregnancy, and parenthood are significantly increased if their future appears bright.  This means helping them set meaningful goals for the future, talking to them about what it takes to make future plans come true, and helping them reach their goals.

8. Let your kids know that you value education highly. Encourage your child to take school seriously and set high expectations about their school performance.  School failure is often an early sign of trouble.  Be very attentive to your child’s progress in school and intervene early if things aren’t going well.

9. Know what your kids are watching, reading, and listening to. Television, radio, movies, music videos, magazines, and the Internet are chock full of material sending the wrong messages.  Sex rarely has meaning, unplanned pregnancy seldom happens, and no one who is having sex ever seems to be married or even especially committed to anyone.

10. These first nine tips for helping your child avoid teen pregnancy work best when they occur as part of a strong, close relationship with your children, that is built from an early age. Strive for a relationship that is warm in tone, firm in discipline, and rich in communication and one that emphasizes mutual trust and respect.

Other websites to search for more information on this topic: www.stayteen.org and www.teenpregnancy.org

If your teen or someone you know is pregnant and looking at their options, have them call ECFA’s Pregnancy Support Services at 630-653-6400 or email pss@evancfa.org

About Evangelical Child & Family Agency

Adoption, Safe Families, Intact Family Services, Counseling, Pregnancy, Birthparents, Adoptive Parents

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