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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.