Speaking Point: Two of the most popular reality shows on television today are MTV's "16 and Pregnant" and "Teen Mom 2". Both follow the lives of teen girls as they have their babies and try to raise their babies...and still be a teenager! As I think about these shows and the shift in our culture that somehow "normalizes" this trend of "babies having babies", I think to myself...Isn't there anywhere a kid could be a kid anymore...And doesn't anyone know about contraception?
Speaking Point: The Center for Disease Control (CDC) just published a report on teenage pregnancy. The CDC surveyed thousands of teenage mothers who had "unintended pregnancies." About 1/3 of girls who didn't use birth control of any kind said the reason they didn't was...(drum roll please)..."they didn't think they could get pregnant." They didn't think they could get pregnant? What in the world? (oh, sorry) The CDC study goes on to say..."Why they thought that isn't clear." BUT, for me, that thought is very clear!
Speaking Point: Teenagers today have learned to "go underground" with the parts of their life that they don't want their parents to know about. Parents have not done a great job of creating a family culture where it is safe for a child to grow up being who they are. Kids today feel they have to follow a script that their parents have created for them and anything going on in their life that may be a challenge to that "picture" is hidden.
Speaking Point: Parents have the responsibility to create a safe family culture where their children have the ability to "practice" their choices and decisions freely, while having the guidance and coaching from their parents. It needs to be a partnership, not a dictatorship. This, of course, requires a level of open communication in the family system. It requires parents to make sure that they are safe mentors and coaches for their children to talk about the decisions that their kids are facing. It requires the teenagers to have the courage to talk to their parents about these very things. It's scary for everybody, but necessary. Kids need a safe dialogue more than they need a script to follow...And parents need the truth rather than a picture of something that isn't quite real.
Speaking Point: The real purpose of parenting is to teach, guide, coach and love your child through THEIR OWN experience. It is not to create a picture for your child to follow, only for them to feel forced to keep their feelings, thoughts, and issues underground and away from you. If parents can create a culture that represents their values, yet understand that their child has their own experiences, their own feelings and thoughts, there will be a partnership between parent and child that allows the child to develop their own identity while under the guidance of their parents.
Speaking Point: "Above ground"... if teens will talk about sex, then their parents need to listen without judgment. If parents can find their own courage not to judge, they will be safe to coach and educate their child about issues like sex and guess what?...Their teens will hear them, and take the information with them into their own decision making!
Speaking Point: The fact that its 2012 and 1/3 of teen moms surveyed didn't know they can get pregnant is not only a statement about these young parents...BUT, a statement about their own parents as well.