What’s the buzz echoing over the airwaves? The media attention over the fact that Bristol Palin, daughter of Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin is pregnant at 17-years-old.
With the buzz, two questions are on our minds. If a teen finds herself pregnant are the parents to blame? Or should we point our fingers at the teen’s own bad choices?
We ask because the issue hits home. If someone like, Governor Sarah Palin, who has her act together well enough to be on the Republican ticket is facing her daughter’s teen pregnancy, what hope is there for the rest of us?
If you don’t want your daughter to be one of the one million teen girls who find themselves pregnant every year, consider this:
1. Be a Role Model. Our kids often follow where we lead. Consider your life. Are you living with integrity? Are you only having sex within the bounds of marriage? The saying, “Do what I say not what I do” never works.
2. Talk about what love is. Love is not sex. Going “all the way” with someone doesn’t prove your love. (No matter what they show on television.) True love is shown through life-long commitment and by valuing the other person. Remind teens that they are the one responsible for setting sexual limits on a relationship. Remind young women, “Sex won’t make him yours. A baby won’t make him stay.”
3. Remind kids it CAN happen to them. Having sex, even so called “protected” sex, can lead to pregnancy. It can happen even to kids from a good family. The only way to 100% prevent pregnancy is to not have sex.
4. Emphasize that even “good girls” get pregnant. Having a good report card, being a good person, having an important parent, or being conscientious will not protect you from pregnancy. According to teenpregnancy.org, 1 in 3 young women get pregnant at least once before they turn 20–good girls included.
5. Let your daughter know that most teens wished they had waited. Sex before marriage can not only lead to pregnancy, but there are other health concerns, such as STDs. There is also emotional baggage. According to teenpregnancy.org, 60% of teens “wished they had waited longer” to have sex.
6. Encourage your teen to plan her actions BEFORE the situation arises. Talk about set boundaries and not putting herself in situations that will cause her to compromise those decisions. Help her make good plans for her future and stick to goals.
7. Talk about media’s wrong messages. The media (television, radio, movies, music videos, magazines, the Internet) are chock full of material sending the wrong messages. Just because we see everyone in Hollywood having sex and having babies, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. Babies are a responsibility, not a fashion accessory.
8. Encourage secondary purity. Teens can say “no” even if they’ve said “yes” before. Today your daughter can make the right choice and choose abstinence.
9. Realize parents can only do so much … but make sure it’s done! As a parent, you cannot be around your child 24/7. Yet, we can do our best to prepare our daughters. Don’t wait.
10. Let you kids know you are available to talk about every issue in life. It’s also important for parents to open up a two way conversation, not a one-way lecture. Parents can do this by turning the above topics into questions such as: What are your boundaries? Do you think sex proves you love someone? What do you think of the messages media gives out?
Let your voice be heard…
Does the fact that vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s unwed teenage daughter is pregnant alter your opinion of her as a White House hopeful?
Need help talking to your teens? My Life, Unscripted (Thomas Nelson) is a book for teen girls, encouraging them to script their lives instead of being caught up in the drama and emotions of the moment.
A former teen mom, Tricia Goyer is also the author of Life Interrupted: The Scoop on Being a Young Mom