Teen pregnancy is a huge issue in this country. It is estimated that about 1.3 in 10 American girls will become pregnant at least once before they turn 20. More than half of teen moms never graduate from high school and less than 2% earn a college degree. Additionally, a quarter of girls who become pregnant as teenagers will become pregnant again within two years of having their first child. While with a good support system, many girls and their babies flourish as teen moms, having your daughter become pregnant as a teenager is probably not what you envisioned for her future. Here are some preventative ways to tell if your child is at risk of becoming a teen mom.
If you do not have an open relationship with your daughter, you can’t expect to know what is going on with your life. Make sure your daughter knows that you can open up to her and won’t judge her. It is important to know who she hangs out with, what she does in her free time, and whether she is making good choices. If she isn’t telling you these things, there is a greater chance she is having unprotected sex without telling you.
She’s a People Pleaser
Being polite and kind is an admirable trait for your child to have. However, if you notice that she is super eager to please and to have other kids like her, she may be more susceptible to peer pressure. Make sure she knows that her care for others is a gift, but she should never be afraid to say “no” to situations that make her uncomfortable- especially when it comes to sex and birth control.
You Haven’t Spoken With Her About Sex
Many parents shy away from this topic, but when it comes to your child’s well being, it is super important to have the sex talk. Your daughter may be mortified, but once you get over the initial embarrassment, you will both realize that sex isn’t too difficult to talk about. While for many, “the talk” means explaining where babies come from, and insisting that their child doesn’t have sex, it is more effective to speak with your daughter about the possibility that she may have sex in the near future, and what precautions to take.
While people often associate teen pregnancy with irresponsibility and ignorance, don’t assume that your mature daughter is immune to becoming pregnant. If your child acts years beyond her age, it is likely she is hanging out with older kids. If she is hanging out with boys years older than her, it may be hard for her to remember that she is still a child and is not in the same place in her life as a young adult is. A more mature girl is likely to think she can handle greater responsibilities and may have the “nothing bad can happen to me” attitude. Additionally, if your daughter acts older than her age, older boys may forget that she is just a teenager and not physically or emotionally ready to have sex.
Her School Does Not Offer Sex Education
It has been proven that schools that do not offer sex education are more likely to have their students become pregnant. It is important that your daughter is learning the importance of safe sex and all of her options for birth control.
One of the biggest causes of teen pregnancy is ignorance of birth control. If your child’s school does not have sex education classes, raise the issue- other parents will get on board too. If this is not an option, make sure you are teaching her about sex and birth control at home.
You Are Overprotective
You may think that being overprotective of your daughter is the best way to ensure that she will not become a teen mom, but you can be doing more harm than good. Children and teenagers need to have freedom. Hampering her will just make her want to rebel. If you keep her on a short leash, she is more likely to do the opposite of what you say, or hide things from you.