Most parents and teenagers agree that the #1 risk of having sex is getting pregnant. The truth? Pregnancy is not the greatest danger. Yet teens and parents alike are told, “Just be on birth control.” “Just be sure you’re using protection.” Parents, be careful about buying into the thinking that your teenager will inevitably have sex, so the main concern is just to be sure the girl doesn’t get pregnant.
Birth control doesn’t address STIs (more about that next time) or emotional, physical and spiritual ripple effects of sex (stay tuned to our blog!). It doesn’t even offer 100% protection against pregnancy. Only abstinence offers complete protection in every way. Teens can be committed to abstinence. Affirm your confidence in your teen’s honor, and encourage him/her to value sexual integrity. Ask them often how they’re doing with their commitment. Openly discuss the risk of a teen pregnancy and the ramifications.
What if she does get pregnant? That will be hard, but it doesn’t need to be a catastrophic event for your family. While life will be different than what it may have been otherwise, carrying to term is not the end of the world. What can you do?
Your child needs you more than ever. He or she needs to hear:
- “I’ll always love you no matter what.”
- “We’re here for you and will help you in whatever way we can.”
- “It’s not what we planned, but it will be okay.”
- “We will get through this together.”
- Avoid blaming or shaming.
- Every pregnant teenager has three legal options: parenting, abortion, adoption. None of these options is an eraser. Even an abortion is not an easy out, although it can seem that way. Selah’s staff are always ready to meet with parents, as well as the girls who think they may be pregnant and guys who are invested in the relationship. Call us if you’d like help processing the situation, understanding the options, and knowing how to support your son or daughter as he or she makes plans.
- Give your teen time to process information. Don’t ask him/her to rush. In most cases, making a plan within a week or a month will not change the options. Everyone deserves whatever time they need to get information, calm down enough to think clearly, and make careful decisions.
- Affirming that every life is beautiful and has value will never be more challenging than when your own teen is facing a pregnancy, but we’ve seen beautiful outcomes when parents are willing to do the brave work of remaining true to their values. Don’t let your shame or your fears determine your child’s future.
- Carrying to term requires an incredible amount of strength. Let your teens hear that you respect girls who do and guys who support them. If it’s your own teen, make sure he/she hears you telling him/her that you will help and that you are proud of her decision to carry to term.
- Legal issues related to teens and pregnancy vary by state. Be sure you know your state’s laws. If you live in Colorado, we can help.
- You and your child will need all the help you can get to work through a teen pregnancy in a healthy way. Call us. We can offer you a safe place to get straight answers and tangible resources.
Having sex means facing the possibility of a pregnancy. Help teens weigh the cost of having sex against the risk of a teen pregnancy. At the same time, make sure they know that you’re in their corner no matter what.
What is your view of teen pregnancy? Do you think it’s the greatest danger for sexually active teens?