#1: Tell me why teen pregnancy isn’t a good idea and help me think about positive opportunities for my future.
Don’t assume teens only see the bad things about teen pregnancy. Be sure to ask what they think about early pregnancy and parenthood and how it would change their goals for the future. Ask teens about their ideas for the future and provide them with specific ways they can make their dreams a reality. Encourage teens to explore their interests and passions and support them in their pursuit of their goals. Don’t be afraid to talk to them about how getting pregnant or causing a pregnancy will get in the way of their goals and don’t assume they’ve thought about this themselves.
#2: Just telling me not to have sex or to “be safe” isn’t enough. Tell me why you feel the way you do.
Make sure teens understand why you’re asking them to do certain things. They want to know what your values and attitudes are about these topics. Remember to talk to them about relationships and some of the emotional aspects of sex, not just the health and safety messages.
Some things you might say:
It’s okay to think about sex and to feel sexual desire. Everybody does. But if you get pregnant/get somebody pregnant, it will be harder for you to graduate from high school and go on to college. It also will be harder for you to reach your goals for the future.
You shouldn’t feel pressure to have sex without using contraception in order to have or keep a relationship with someone. If sex without using contraception is the price of your relationship, you deserve to find someone else.
I’d really like you to wait to have sex until you’re in a serious, committed, adult relationship.
# 3: Don’t assume that just because I ask you a question about sex or contraception it means I’m having sex.
Teens may ask about sex or contraception because they are curious or heard something that they want explained. If you freak out the first time they ask you a question about sex or contraception, they’ll probably be shy about asking you again. Also remember that giving young people information about these topics doesn’t encourage them to have sex, but it can go a long way toward making sure they have accurate information. It can help begin a series of conversations with them about these topics. When they do ask questions about these topics, make sure you recognize the question, understand the question, and understand what it is they’re trying to learn. If you don’t know the answer to a question your teen asks, don’t be afraid to admit it and suggest looking up the answer together.