Do you know that one in three teen girls in the United States is estimated to get pregnant at least once before age 20? 65 While this is better than a decade ago, when the number was four in ten girls, it is still too high. Pregnancy has very important consequences for teen girls and teen boys, and their children. Having a baby as a teen makes it much harder for a boy or girl to reach their goals, such as finishing high school, going on to college, getting a good job, or getting married when they grow up, and poses additional challenges to the child as well. 66, 67
If a teen girl finds out she is pregnant, she and her parents, and the father of the baby and his parents have some tough decisions to make. None of them are easy:
- Some teen mothers decide to continue their pregnancy and then choose adoption for their baby. Adoption may be the best choice for the baby and the teen parents. There are many adoption agencies and types of adoption. Some teens are able to meet the parents who wish to adopt the baby.
- Many teens decide to keep their babies. Some marry the baby’s father and raise their baby together. Sometimes the baby's grandparents or other family members help raise it so that the teen mother can stay in school and work. But it requires a lot of additional hard work for a teen parent to finish school and get a good job. Children of teen mothers face greater risk of poverty, behavioral problems, poor academic performance, incarceration, and teen pregnancy, so good parenting skills are very important. 68
- Some teen pregnancies end in abortion. Abortions can have complications. There may be emotional consequences, as well: some women say that they feel sad and some use more alcohol or drugs than before. 69, 70 Some states require teens to have their parent's permission to get an abortion. To understand the scope of this situation, consider these numbers: In 2002, there were over 750,000 teen pregnancies in the United States, 71 including over 215,000 teen abortions. 72
Teen pregnancy also can be hard on teen fathers. The pregnancy can strain their relationships with their girlfriend and with their parents. And teen fathers do not go as far in school and make less money when they get in the job market than teens who do not father children. 73 Even though they are young, they have to face up to adult responsibilities like supporting the mother emotionally and financially during her pregnancy and helping to raise their child. They are financially responsible for their children until their children turn 18.
Once a girl is pregnant, there is no easy choice. The very best thing is to help your son or daughter avoid getting pregnant, or getting someone pregnant, in the first place.
Teaching Positive Morals and Values - Why It's Important
A few days ago I was talking with some moms about a popular children’s book. I found it strange that even though the group of parents I was talking to made reference to certain values that were not being taught by this book, they didn’t really have a handle on what values truly are and how they work. They really weren't sure how to get their children to do the 'right thing' by teaching a value.
We seem to be too worried about 'the rules' and enforcing them, that as parents we aren't looking at the big picture of our children's lives. It's in the big picture where positive values and morals are seen. It's not whether your teen got an 'A' on his science project, it's if he values what an education is going to do for him. Which is a catch-22, because if he values the education, he'll strive for the 'A'.
Values are the desirable principles in someone’s character that society considers worthwhile. Friendliness and courage are values. Morals work with the judgment of values as they emerge in actions. Promptness is a value; therefore, it is morally wrong to be late to work.
Your teen needs you to teach him/her values so they can create their own strong moral fiber. People who have good moral fiber:
- are successful in their relationships with other people. They know how to treat another person with respect and know how to earn respect from other people. They are the type of people who you find you want to be friends with.
- contribute positively to society by reaching beyond themselves out into their community. They get involved and help where they can.
- take responsibility for their actions. They try to fix any mistakes they make. They are capable of feeling a sense of accomplishment when they finish a task. People who do not have base values aren’t even able to feel good about doing something right.
- are capable of learning and growing both socially and emotionally.
- are generally happier. They grab on to the best of what life has to offer them. They can see the light at the end of the tunnel when life gets tough.
Success in life is picked up in bits and pieces along our journey. When you give your teenager values and help him/her build a strong moral fiber, you’re giving him/her the ability to pick and choose which bits and pieces are a worthy part of their journey to success.
Sexuality and Teens: What You Should Know About Sex, Abstinence, Birth Control, Pregnancy and STDs (Issues in Focus Today)
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