Teen Pregnancy: Being Honest About the Options
The United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate than any other industrialized nation. In 2006, there were 750,000 teen pregnancies. One third of all end up pregnant before their 20th birthday.
To think that “good Christian girls” are immune would be doing your children a great disservice. As we discussed in Girlhood Interrupted, according to experts, prior to adolescence, a child’s primary influencer is his or her’s parents (or guardians.) There is no cognitive thinking of consequences. That part of the brain isn’t developed yet. There is simply, “Mommy said no,” or, “Daddy said stop.” Children are influenced by what we as parents require, demand, control, encourage, motivate, discipline, etc.
Once a child reaches adolescence, though, the parents are no longer the primary influence. Number one becomes peers, and number two becomes the media (and in saying the media, that means movies, television, music, internet, etc.) There is no “this is right and that is wrong,” there is simply, “if I do this will my peers think it’s cool,” or, “if I don’t do that, will my peers mock me.”
The last thing to develop physiologically in a child/teen/young adult is the frontal lobe. That part of the brain is the cognitive thinking part and determines with critical thinking and reasons that a+b=c. A being action, b being reaction, c being consequence. Until that development, there is no a+b=c. There is simply experience (don’t touch the hot stove) and influence (peers and media).
There is no, “If I have unmarried sex I may get pregnant or catch some horrible disease.” There is simply, “I have these feelings, my boyfriend wants sex, everyone in the media is having sex, so let’s have sex.”
In continuing our discussion of Vicki Courtney’s 5 Conversations You Must Have with Your Daughter, we enter into Chapter 10, “Teen Pregnancy: Being Honest About the Options.”
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My daughter’s dad has a friend from high school whom I never liked much, and it was a mutual dislike. Recently, and for reasons unknown to me, Kaylee mentioned her and I said that I never really cared for her. Kaylee asked me why, and I looked at my nearly 14-year-old daughter and determined that honesty was called for in this conversation. I said, “Because she’s had multiple abortions. Four that I know of. She felt like it was an acceptable method of birth control.”
Kaylee started asking me questions about that and I decided to continue my conversation with her. The fact is, she’s old enough to possibly get pregnant. I felt like if I ceased the conversation, I might miss the wide open window to have it.
I told her about a Focus on the Family radio program I’d recently listened to. They interviewed a nurse who had spent years working as a nurse in a Planned Parenthood clinic. She was a Christian, and honestly felt like she was doing the world good. One day, they had a guest doctor come in who was a private practice abortion doctor. He did abortion by ultrasound, and this nurse was invited to assist. She was excited, because she’d never done an abortion that way, but had heard of it and wanted the experience. She watched the baby appear on the screen – a fully formed baby at twelve weeks – and watched it startle awake as the probe entered the uterus, then fight to get away from the procedure.
This nurse was sickened. She had always been told, and had counseled hundreds of women, that the baby wouldn’t feel anything, that it wouldn’t be aware of what was happening. Yet on this screen, the evidence proved otherwise.
She walked away from her job that day and has never gone back. She has mourned for a long time wondering how many young mothers would have changed their minds if they’d known that the baby would be cognizant.
I told Kaylee this story and continued to answer questions about abortion and teen pregnancy. We talked about the show that she’s seen at friend’s houses that is a reality show about teen pregnancy and mothers. I told her, as I have many times, that sex between a man and a woman as ordained by God in the holy union of matrimony is a beautiful gift to be enjoyed and relished, but, outside of matrimony, either premarital or extramarital, is simply dangerous. We talked about many other topics that day.
The fact is, despite the fact that we teach abstinence, and despite the fact that at this point she herself says, “I know how to prevent pregnancy – don’t have premarital sex!”, one third of the girls in her class right now are going to end up pregnant. We can’t ignore those numbers. If God thought that we could withstand sexual temptation, He wouldn’t have told us to flee from it (1 Corinthians 6:18).
We need to teach our daughters (and sons) the realities of abortion (see this amazing series by Brooke McGlothlin), the difficulties of teen parenting, and the pain of giving up children for adoption. We need to continually stress to them, like Kaylee says, that the sure-fire way to prevent pregnancy is to not have premarital sex.
More importantly than all of that, we need to love our children. We need to love them, they need to know and trust that love, and we need to have a constant dialogue with them so that when they need to talk to us, they know they can come to us when they have questions or concerns. Or if they’ve made a mistake and find themselves one of the third. Because the fact is that one third of us as parents will experience that.
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