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10 Tips for Parents

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy has presented 10 tips on how parents can become involved (or more involved) in their teens’ lives.

  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 certain in your own mind about these issues. Know what your own values and attitudes are and share them with your child.

  2. TALK WITH YOUR CHILD EARLY AND OFTEN ABOUT SEX, AND BE SPECIFIC. Kids have lots of questions about sex, and they often say that the source they’d most like to go to for answers are their parents. Start the conversation, and make sure that it is honest, open, and respectful. If you can’t think of how to start the discussion, consider using situations shown on television or in movies as conversation starters. Tell them candidly and confidently what you think and why you take these positions. Age appropriate conversations about relationships and intimacy should begin early in a child’s life and continue through adolescence. DO NOT wait until your child is a teen to begin discussions. Kids need a lot of communication, guidance, and information about these issues, even if they don’t appear to be interested in what you have to say.

  3. SUPERVISE AND MONITOR YOR CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS. Establish curfews, rules and standards of expected behavior. (Supervising and monitoring your kid’s whereabouts doesn't make you a nag, it makes you a parent!)

  4. KNOW YOUR CHILDREN’S FRIENDS AND THEIR FAMILIES. Friends have strong influences on each other, so help your children and teenagers become friends with kids whose families share your values. Welcome your children’s friends into your home and talk with them openly.

  5. DISCOURAGE EARLY, FREQUENT, AND STEADY DATING. Group activities among young people are fine and often fun, but allowing teens to begin steady, one-on-one dating, much before the age of 16, can lead to trouble.

  6. TAKE A STRONG STAND AGAINST YOUR DAUGHTER DATING A BOY WHO IS SIGNIFICANTLY OLDER THAN SHE IS. And don’t allow your son to develop an intense relationship with a girl much younger than he is. Try setting a limit of no more than a two- (or at most three-) year age difference. The power of differences between younger girls and older boys or men can lead girls to risky situations, including unwanted sex and sex with no protection.

  7. OFFER OPTIONS FOR THE FUTURE THAT ARE MORE ATTRACTIVE TO TEENAGERS THAN EARLY PREGNANCY AND PARENTHOOD. The chances that your children will delay sex, pregnancy and parenthood are significantly increased if their futures appear bright. Set goals, talk to your teens about how to achieve those goals. Explain how teen pregnancy can crush those goals.

  8. LET YOUR KIDS KNOW THAT YOU VALUE EDUCATION HIGHLY. Encourage your children to take school seriously. Set high expectations about their school performance. Be attentive to your child's school performance, and intervene early if things aren't going well. Limit the number of hours your teen gives to part-time jobs to a maximum of 20 hours per week. Volunteer at the school.

  9. KNOW WHAT YOUR KIDS ARE WATCHING, READING, AND LISTENING TO. The media (TV, radio, music videos, magazines, Internet) are chock full of material that sends the wrong message. Is what your child sees or hears consistent with your values? Explain to your children why you don’t want them to watch or listen to certain programs. You may not be able to fully control what your children see and hear, but you can make your views known and control your home environment.

  10. THESE FIRST NINE TIPS FOR HELPING CHILDREN AVOID TEEN PREGNANCY WORK BEST WHEN THEY OCCUR AS PART OF STRONG, CLOSE RELATIONSHIPS WITH YOUR CHILDREN THAT ARE 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.

A final note…it’s never too late to improve a relationship with a child or teenager. Don’t underestimate the greatest need that children feel (at all ages) for close relationship with their parents and for their parents’ guidance, approval and support.

If you would like additional information on how to talk with your teen on sex, call the Health Education Division at the Wayne County Health Department at 731-1291.