Most of us parents want to be grandparents some day. You know - that day. That far off day, when we have a bit of silver in our hair and our children have finished college and enjoyed a few career-driven years before finding a decent mate and making a home with them. We can enjoy those grandkids, help out a bit and watch our own children transition into mature parents who make the same mistakes we did, and hopefully do many more wonderful things to compensate.
But what happens when our daughter isn't done with college. When she isn't even half way through high school? And she tells you she's pregnant?
None of us will be happy. None of us wants our son or daughter to be a parent in high school. The statistics are dim. The percentage of teen moms who graduate high school is very low. College, even lower. The odds of them living at or below the poverty line are high and the odds of their own children being teen parents are also increased. Indeed, they are at great risk of having a second child soon after the first.
So how to we keep our kids from becoming parents? One way is to put our daughters on the birth control pill before she becomes sexually active. But most 13 or 14 year olds are not rushing to mom to tell her she's ready to have sex "so let's break out the pills so that we're all set!" Boys don't want to tell their parents either, so they use condoms incorrectly (or not at all), or believe that you can't get a girl pregnant the first time, or that pulling out guarantees she won't get pregnant.
And all of this leads to teen pregnancy and disease.
So do we insist on abstinence? Many teens will disobey that rule, whether we like it or not. And abstincence-only programs have not seen a decrease in teen pregnancy.
So we need to be involved. Do we put our daughters on the pill? What age is acceptable? 17? 16? 14?
We have decision to make, as parents. Do we tell our children that real responsibility is to not have sex until they can physically (pregnancy/disease) and emotionally (breakups/stress) handle a sexual relationship? This is essentially saying that abstinence is best. It's safe to say many parents feel this way about their young teens.
Or do we agree that sex and teenagers is a reality and that it happens - all the time. And unless we prepare our children (birth control/condoms) the alternatives are teenage parents, abortions or leaving newborns in a toilet stall.
Is there a real-life solution to the dichotomy of parents wanting their kids to abstain from sex, and their kids wanting to engage in it? Where is the line drawn? Is putting a 13 year old girl on the pill allowing her to take sexual responsibility, or is it giving her carte blanche to have sex anytime she wants? Will it teach her responsibility or will it set her up for failure? After all, parents think - taking a pill once a day is easy, until she forgets. And a 13, 14, or 15 year old will forget. And they won't care. And they won't get pregnant. And they are invincible and it'll never happen to them. Until it does. And if it's not pregnancy, it's herpes or HPV or HIV. Diseases that can maim or kill.
Many other parents believe that the pill (or condoms) are better than nothing at all. And if their kids are going to have sex, at least they'll be protected.
How do you feel about younger teens and birth control? How young is too young? Have you - or will you - put your daughters on the pill? And at what age?
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