“You better not end up pregnant!”
Ever heard that before?
Because that pretty much sums up the “sex talk” many girls will ever hear from their parents. While the teen pregnancy rate in the United States is at an all-time low, it’s still higher than many other developed countries like Canada and the United Kingdom.
Which is why May has been designated Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month.
And why I believe we need to rethink howwe talk to girls AND guys about teen pregnancy.
In today’s post, I’ll share the approach I use in the classroom that resonates with students.
Give it a try and I think you’ll find it will resonate with your daughter too.
When We Change Our Focus, They Change Their Outlook.
My overall approach is simple.
Teach young people towards the desired outcome.
Not away from it.
What does that mean?
It means instead of harping on the negative consequences of teen pregnancy (although I do discuss them), I challenge my students to envision the kind of life they’d want for their future child/family.
To think about things like…
…What kind of home and neighborhood would they want to be able to provide for their child?
…What kind of education would they want their future child to receive?
…Which extracurricular activities would they want their future child to participate in?
After they share their answers, I ask them whether their current choices will put them in a position to give their future child those things.
I also ask them to consider what’s in the BEST interests of their future child:
To be born to teen parents with limited maturity, education and income?
Or, to be born to adult parents who are mature, educated, financially stable and in a loving, committed marriage?
And you know what? They get it!
“You changed my outlook. I had never thought about the consequences for my future family, only for myself. I now understand the full impact of my actions”.
“I now believe that if I don’t abstain for my own good then I should do it for my future kids’ good. I want them to be born into a healthy married relationship, not into a teen couple’s relationship. I want a bright future for my kids and if that means no sex, then no sex it shall be.”
Even the guys in my class respond well when the discussion focuses on their future families.
“After hearing you speak about remaining abstinent my entire perspective on sex has changed. Over and over we, as teenagers, hear how having sex before marriage can change our lives; but you were the first person to explain how it can impact others. All my life my entire mindset behind involvement with girls was to be as different from my dad as I could. You helped me to realize that my behavior now is changing not only my own, but my future child’s future. I finally understand that I’m risking my kid growing up the same way I did, so I’ve made the decision to put sex off until I’m in the ideal position to support my family.”
Try framing your conversations about teen pregnancy with your daughter this way.
Ask her what kind of life she wants to provide for her future family.
The more details she can imagine the better.
Then challenge her to decide if becoming a teen parent is in the best interests of her future child(ren).
That’s how you empower your daughter to make BEST choices.
Even if she doesn’t feel like she’s worth the wait, chances are she’ll think her future child is.
And even if she’s already a teen mom, make sure your daughter knows that her future isn’t over and neither is your grandchild’s.
Encourage her to pursue her dreams and goals just like she would if she didn’t have a child.
And remind her that it’s not too late to achieve the kind of life she’s always wanted for her current family.
Let me know how it goes!
And tune in next week for my Mother’s Day post.
P.S. Don’t feel bad if you haven’t already spoken to your daughter about teen sex. And don’t beat yourself up if you had the “you better not end up pregnant” talk. It’s not too late to change course! Just start asking your daughter questions about the kind of life she wants for her future (or current) family. Then challenge her to do what’s in their best interests NOW. Like not having sex before being in a loving, committed marriage.
P.P.S. Be sure to share this post and let’s get teen girls AND guys thinking about what’s in the best interests of their future families NOW while there’s still time to make the BEST choice for them.