Jan 28, 2010

Something I think about... Teen Pregnancy


I have been the Director of Pregnant and Parenting Teens for Youth for Christ of the Central Valley for going on 6 years.  During that time, I have had the opportunity to meet more than 250 pregnant or parenting adolescents, ranging in age from 14-19 years old. I can say with confidence that Teen Pregnancy is a problem in our culture that isn't going away.

Each year, as the young women (add young men to that for this year) begin to get to know me and the other volunteers who come each week to our "Teen Parent's Club" (not an example of a club you want your child to be in), there is a phase as we get to know one another where the students "test" us. What are they testing for? You might ask.  They are testing to see if we are reliable, or if we are just like every other adult in their lives, losers who use drugs.  They also like to test how judgmental we are by saying shocking things.

For example, one year a 15 year old young woman shared that she and her boyfriend had been trying to get pregnant for a few months before they succeeded.
me: Really? Why would you TRY to get pregnant?
her: Because I really wanted to be a mother, and was worried I wouldn't be able to if I waited too long
me: Well, I guess you won't have to worry about that anymore.
her: yeah, (holding her 2 month old infant), I can't wait to have another one.
me: Really? (Looking NOT IMPRESSED), I could see that, you wouldn't want them to be too far apart in age.
her: Yeah... but it would be hard to have two, since my boyfriend and I have to share a room with this one.
me: yeah, what does your boyfriend do for a living?
her: What do you mean?
me: Like, a job?
her: Oh, he doesn't have a job, he's a rapper.
me: What does he wrap?
her: No, I mean, he performs, he's like a singer.
me: Cool, does he have a CD?
her: Well, he just does it around the house... until his grandma tells him to shut-up.

I'm not even joking.  I have had many a conversation like this.  Can I tell you something I don't want to say too loud?  I think that for many of these kids, getting pregnant was the best thing for them.  It motivated them to finish school and try to do better... for their babies.

All of that aside.  This is my #1 concern: What can I say or do to keep it from happening to my kids and to the other kids I know and have influence over?   What do I tell my friends and family members to help them to keep it from happening to their children? What can I say or do to keep those teens I meet each week at Club from having a second baby?  It boggles my mind. 
1. They can't be convinced to stop having sex.  Many of them live with/share a bedroom with their boyfriends.
2. Our society is becoming increasingly caviler about pre-marital sex.  It's just not as meaningful as it should be.
3. The culture that these kids are growing up in increases to become more complex, more unstable, more violent, more drug-infused and less safe.  It overwhelms me when I think about trying to address the culture, when I am somewhat removed from the culture.

I could give you a list of frightening and depressing statistics about how much Teen Pregnancy costs our society, and how it impacts those innocent little babies later on.  You can read about it at the website for The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.  It also has great resources about this very topic.  I could give all of the statistics here, but there is no point.  The truth is that this is just one of those things I think about a lot.  I contemplate and consider the options.

In the end,  I usually just pray.

What about you?  If you are a parent, what is your plan for addressing this issue?
Are you pro-Abstinence only sex-ed?  Will you tell your kids to wait until marriage?
What do YOU think about this topic?
Just me, AJ

19 comments:

  1. I definitely have seen the teen pregnancy issue - I used to teach in a high school before having my little one. I guess my whole manner of thought is although abstinence is the best way to go...we need to educate as many kids just won't follow through with the abstinence route.

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  2. Love what you do for these teens.

    This is a scary topic. I think a lot about how I want to shelther and and/or educate my children. Like you say, praying is probably the best thing. 2nd comes the balancing act: communication, setting high standards, being strict while fostering trust, loving at all times. Ugh. You're right--it's boggling.

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  3. I get scared thinking about this. When I taught middle school, some of my students were having sex, but we were only allowed to teach abstinence.

    While it would be nice if they would listen, the reality is that a lot don't and they need to be educated.

    I'm frightened to think about when my boys are old enough to have sex.

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  4. I can say what I think I'll say to Samuel....since he's adopted I am hoping he'll understand the implications of teenage pregnancy a little better since his b mom was 17 when she got pregnant...I will hope for abstinance but realistically tell him about condoms too.

    Your post made me think...I will link to your post tomorrow to drive traffic your way.

    Thanks

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  5. I will encourage abstinence but will also have to educate. I'm not stupid but I have to make sure she is prepared by an adult if she does go that way. Tough - not fun to think about. But i have some time. gosh i hope (she's only 2 1/2).

    Kiran

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  6. not fun to think about at all.
    Did U happen to watch the Pregnancy pact movie on Lifetime? I thought it was very well done. I guess all we can do as mothers is educate our children, our daughters teach them values and the importance of loving yourself, not giving into peer pressure. Yes, They probably need to know about how to protect themselves but Abstinence is also important and should not be put off lightly.
    Thanks for addressing this.
    Great post as always!

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  7. Hmmm, we discussed this around age 12. And again at 13, 14, 15. By then my girls were sick of hearing it, lol. Plus they got a great education at the Montessori school that I sent them too...complete with a program called the Heroic Journey where they learned a lot about personal space and peers and the whole kaboodle.

    I think strength and education comes in many forms. I was lucky. So many parents are not. Neither of my girls have been a problem. In fact, my one daughter is so friggin picky she'll be 40 b4 having a relationship. :)

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  8. I can't believe she said her man raps until his grandma tells him to shut up,lol!
    Thank you for the work you do. It must be trying at times. Then all we really can do is pray.....but prayer moves mountains:)

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  9. My family is going through this now. My 21 year old cousin got his 19 year old "fiance" pregnant. It is hard for me to trust their story of how it happened since obviously I wasn't there. They say birth control made her sick (I hear this a lot from friends who now have babies and I was always told their are so many options keep trying)and the condrom broke. I think more teens need to be educated on how easily you can get pregnant and the plan B pill. I personally think they figured they were ok. That what are the odds? He told us that the plan B pill was like $100 which we all responded with, do you know how much a baby costs?!!!

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  10. I had my first daughter when I was 17. I didn't come from a bad family, just one that didn't necessarily give me as much attention as I needed and as soon as I found a boy that would give me that attention, I latched on. I participated in the teen parent class at my high school and got to experience many girls like the ones you've described.

    I am for Sex Ed classes in high school. If it were up to me it would focus around the hardships that come with teen pregnancy as well as the STDs, etc that it tends to focus on. Some teens are just going to have sex, it's one of those things that sometimes you just can't prevent. But if you can convince them to stay safe while doing it, and show them how hard life is as a single teenage parent, it might help a little. I was lucky, I had an infinite amount of support from my family, others aren't as lucky.

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  11. My thoughts, as a teenage mom who now has 4 teenagers. I came from a good home, had a strong sense of self and felt much love. I simply fell in love young, felt I had a right to do what I wanted, 'cause, you know, I was a teenager, and thought it wouldn't happen to me. It did. We made the best of it.

    Now as a parent, I focus on 3 things:

    Insulate your kids. Give them a sense of the real world without letting them fall victim to it. Mine go to a small, private school and I (maybe naively think I) know where they are at all times. We're not 'just be home by midnight' or 'sure, he can sleep on your floor as long as your door stays open' kind of parents.

    Show your kids how they should treat others and be treated. We try to talk to each other with respect, argue respectfully, joke with and love on each other in front of them. Little comments like 'do not ever date a guy like that one who just let the door shut in my face' are also helpful.

    Finally, constantly remind them of the value God sees in them, both with words and actions. If they see themselves through God's eyes, there is less chance they'll settle for shacking up with some 'rapper'. Christian-based purity programs can be very beneficial for this.

    We'll see in a few years how successful we are. :-)

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  12. That convo is scary, sad, and hilarious at the same time.

    I try not to think about this too much in regards to my kids. I think it's easier for moms of boys to be more blase about it. (Not that we should be.) It does worry me.

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  13. Stopping over to say hi. Have a wonderful weekend!!!!

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  14. Stopping by from SITS!
    This is a scary topic. There are some teenage girls who WANT to get pregnate because they just want someone to love them and they think a kid is going to do it. It's really sad.

    As for education, I don;t have kids yet, but I will strongly encourage abstinence from a biblical standpoint-address their heart and not just the behaviour. I do think schools should teach both abstinence and precautions-because the reality is, some kids are going to have sex anyway.

    What you're doing is great, though! You may not be able to prevent teens from having sex (that's a LARGE task) but youa re helping redeem the culture by helping them be better parents and deal with reality afterwards! Be encouraged!

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  15. I was teaching at a middle school when I became pregnant. The first question that my students asked me: are you going to marry the daddy? Isn't that sad? That's the "normal."

    I was married, by the way.

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  16. That doesn't even shock me! I teach in a public high school in Indiana (where we are loaded down with pregnant teens)!
    I'm also a mama to 3 teenagers of my own.
    All 3 of my kids are committed to purity! It's a fantastic feeling!

    My husband and I have (from the very beginning) communicated with them about WHAT GOD WANTS FOR THEIR LIVES!!!
    And premarital sex AIN'T IT!
    They love God and want to please Him and obey Him.....and US!
    We have a close relationship with our kids and I think that helps them to feel comfortable sharing stuff with us.
    We have some really deep conversations at our dinner table. Nothing is off limits.
    This has been helpful for them and us. We are able to speak the truth to them about the consequences of stuff their peers are doing.

    Do not freak out about your own kids. DO WHAT GOD HAS LEFT YOU RESPONSIBLE TO DO WITH THEM!
    1) LOVE YOUR SPOUSE outloud in front of them
    2) LOVE THEM...and tell them lots and show them affection! Fill up their love tank so they aren't searching for it somewhere else!
    3) PRAY WITH THEM AND FOR THEM
    4) TEACH THEM TO LOVE GOD AND OBEY HIM
    5) BE REAL TO THEM. APOLOGIZE WHEN YOU GOOF UP
    6) BE OPEN FOR DISCUSSIONS...even the hard ones

    You have a great future ahead....trust Him! He can do amazing things for you and your kids!
    God bless you for the work you are doing! It is so sad! :)

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  17. Oh goodness... my oldest is 3 right now... I'm hoping that I don't even have to think about it for awhile. My anxiety can't handle it!

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  18. The conversation scared em to death, but I think so many kids see it as being OK, which in my world is not OK. My parents were young, 18 and 19 when they had me, but they were out of high school and they are still married...but probably an exception to the rule.

    I love Wanders comment above and her points...I think we, with younger ones, can learn from the moms with the older kids.

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  19. I didn't answer the question...I will be frank about the subject (my parents were no so much with me...thankfully I was terrified of it all and a BIG dork!)...and encourage/promote abstinence.

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