Saturday, 7 April 2012

How to help your teen avoid an unplanned pregnancy.

Children don't come with instruction booklets. Raising a child successfully today is like manoeuvering a tank around a series of pylons on a bicycle path. When the child becomes a teenager, the path becomes narrower and the pylons swell. The challenges become more daunting.

One of many parents' greatest fears is that their teen may face the responsibilities of an unplanned pregnancy. The wise parent can minimize the risk of this possibility by beginning a series of counter-measures when the child is very young:

1. Have your baby baptized in the church of your choosing. Attend services regularly so the child becomes comfortable and regards the church as an extension of home, and the congregation as an extension of family. He'll receive sound moral training here and good people will be worthwhile friends and role-models as he embarks on the journey through life

2. Teach the child the proper names for his sexual organs. There are lots of colourful picture books to help children become familiar with the external organs of both sexes. In many families the presence of brothers and sisters provide real "family life" education.

3. Enjoy your child's childhood and extend it as long as possible. Don't be in a rush to buy grown-up clothes and make-up, have "play-dates", or other activities which glamorize the teen-age years. Encourage same-sex activities: birthday parties, Cubs, Brownies, team sports and participation in church youth group activities. Be involved, get to know your child's friends and their parents.

4. If your school does not have a series of Family Life Education courses, start one with your own child at home. Begin at the primary grade level and introduce the reproductive system of the child giving each organ its proper name. Picture books are most helpful. Building on the former knowledge, the internal organs of the opposite sex may be introduced around the middle grade level.

5, Together, set realistic goals for your child's future. What career will he choose? How much education will be required? Help him form a picture of the rosy future he'll enjoy if he sticks to his goal. Praise every achievement which brings him a step closer to that goal. Make academic achievement a priority.

6. Around Grade 7 or 8, or when the child starts to ask, again building on former knowledge, explain how babies are conceived. Emphasize the family connection. Babies need mothers and fathers to care for them, so they need to be born into a family. Remark on how the birth of a new brother, sister or cousin brings joy to the whole family.

7. Allow group dates only for the first years of high school. Since cars will be scarce among the younger set, offer to drive groups to and from movies, sporting events, church activities, school dances, etc. When you're not driving, set a strict curfew.

8. During the last years of high school and the first of college, your teenager will expect more freedom. They should be mature enough by this time to act responsibly, but certain actions on the parent's part can still be helpful. Be sure the teen has a cell phone so you be reached in an emergency. If you have a daughter, promise to pick her up anywhere, anytime, with no questions asked, if she gets into an uncomfortable situation.

Make your teen's friends welcome in your home. Give the young people some privacy during a gathering or party at your residence, but not too much. Keep in touch with other parents and compare notes when necessary.

9. Continue to give your teen lots of attention and love. This way, they are less apt to be seeking affection from inappropriate sources.

10. When your teen settles down to date one other person exclusively, the temptation to engage in premarital sex will be there. This is the time for a serious talk. Reinforce all the ideas you've instilled through the years: sex is meant to be shared during a committed marriage, babies need two parents and a secure family life.

Reinforce the idea that attaining an educational goal will ensure the teen's future family a lifetime of security and happiness. If you feel your teen needs further information, request the help of your family doctor.

By this time, your child will be eighteen, legally an adult. You've done your best to guide him/ her through the youthful years and instill proper values. Your role changes now to that of a consultant. Be available, be interested, be supportive, offer advice when requested. You'll get lots of practice; this role will continue for the rest of your life.

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