Jaime Lyn Spears: OOPS! She Did It!
How to keep your teen from making their own OOPS!
Jamie Lyn Spear’s baby announcement at the age of 16 put the realities of teen pregnancy in the spot light. So what should parents do to prevent a pregnancy with their teen? Well let’s start with the facts.
Although teen pregnancy has been declining since it highest levels in 1990, still, over 750,000 teens become pregnant each year in this country with Texas leading the nation. Unfortunately, most teens are not emotionally or financially equipped to care for a child. Although Jamie Lyn is an exception, many times, the mother is forced to go on welfare and the child is subject to emotional and/or physical abuse. The truth is that the foster care system is full of children of single parents who were not prepared to parent.
So how can parents prevent their babies from having babies? Here are a few tips:
1. It’s time to talk Birds and Bees!
Kids have a lot of questions about sex, love and relationships and they often say that the source they want to go to is their parents. Still, you don’t want to wait for them to kick-start the discussion. It is the parents’ job – not the church, not the school, and not their friends (definitely NOT their friends) – it is up to mom and dad to educate their kids about sex. In addition, parents should resist the idea that “The Talk” should only take place once. In fact, age appropriate conversations should happen consistently through-out a child’s life and into adolescence. Let’s face it, it’s uncomfortable sometimes and a little oogy having to discuss this subject when it seems like only yesterday, your little girl was running around in pig tails. To make it easier, use books or movies as conversation starters.
2. Monitor your kids and know their friends
Now is not the time to be your kid’s friend! It is your job to be the parent and set boundaries. Kids function best when they know the rules and understand the limits. Set a curfew and know their friends – and, if possible, know their friends’ parents! Also, pay attention to their electronic habits. In my opinion, kids do not have rights to privacy. Parents should monitor emails, texts, cell phone, etc. It is up to you to ask questions and don’t worry about being a nag – It’s Your Job!
3. Talk About the Future
It’s hard for kids to think about next week let alone the future. So, it is up to mom and dad to have open discussions about their goals and how they will be achieved. This is also an awesome opportunity to share realistic consequences if an oops baby enters the picture. Let them know that their dreams can come true if responsible choices are being made.
4. Discourage early, steady dating
I think dating before the age of 16 can lead to trouble. Frankly, dating before 25 is a bit dicey. Still, there is a maturity level that needs to be reached before hormones start to take over. This can become even more complicated if there is a significant age difference between the couple. I would suggest no more than two-years age difference is appropriate for teen dating. When it comes to group activities, parents should make sure they are still supervising these situations. When it comes to teens, rarely are two-heads smarter than one. In fact, they get increasingly brainless the higher the number of kids involved.
4. Empower your child to say “No!”’
This speaks to your child’s self-esteem and confidence. If you are offering a safe, supportive home, chances are you are raising a child that feels empowered to assert his or her own boundaries. Still, it is important that your child knows that saying “No” does not make them less cool and that they should be empowered to make decisions about their body and about their future.
Bottom line, parents need to be clear about their point of view regarding sex. Let your kids know the facts, the risks, and the consequences. Help them have a plan in advance. Let them know that sexual desire is normal – everybody does. But discuss when and how to say “no”.
If your teen is facing a crisis pregnancy, consider these resources.
Pregnancy Resource Center
12959 Jupiter Rd., #260, Dallas, TX 75238
6500 Greenville Ave., #405, Dallas, TX 75206
3901 Holystone St., Dallas, Texas 75212
Gladney Center for Adoption
6300 John Ryan Drive, Fort Worth, TX 76132
Multiple Locations Throughout the Metroplex