by Dr. Laura Markham
Do You Have a Teenager?
Then you'll be interested in knowing that:
1 in 7 teens has sex before they're 15. The younger they are, the more likely they are to regret it -- and to skip protection.
The United States has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the Western industrialized world. One out of every three young women in America becomes pregnant before she reaches the age of 20.
Each year, 750,000 teens become pregnant. Eight out of 10 of these pregnancies are unintended and nearly one-third end in abortion.
Is your teen ready for sex? My own view is that no teen is ready for sex, at least not until age eighteen or so. I certainly believe teens can fall in love, but I just don't think they're ready for the complicated feelings that arise in a sexual relationship, not with all the developmental challenges they're already facing. And that's not even mentioning the risks of pregnancy, STDs and AIDs.
The best way to prevent your teen from having sex prematurely? Build a great relationship with your child.
Research shows that teens who feel close to their parents are the most likely to abstain from sex as teenagers. If they do have sex, they wait until they're older, have fewer partners, and use contraception.
Research has proven that parents can influence kids to postpone sex - and to use contraception once they begin - by taking the following steps:
1. Be clear about the value of delaying sex.
2. Be clear about your expectations of your child.
3. Provide adequate supervision without being authoritarian and provoking rebellion.
4. Ask your child questions: When do you think kids are ready for sex? How do they know? Do you think sex changes things in a relationship? What if one person feels ready and one doesn't?
5. Discuss contraception.
6. Teach boys responsibility and respect for women.
7. Teach girls not to compromise their self-respect.
8. Offer support, empathy and a listening ear rather than lecturing.
9. Talking isn't enough; share activities with your child and stay connected!
10. Express your love in every way you can think of, every day.
About the Author
Dr. Laura Markham, the Dear Abby of Parenting, is a clinical psychologist who hosts the popular advice column "Ask Dr. Laura" at the parenting web site YourParentingSolutions.com, The Good Dr. answers questions from parents of infants through teens, offering parent-tested solutions you can use every day to connect with your kids and create a richer family life. Her work appears regularly on a dozen parenting sites and in print, and she frequently speaks with groups of parents, both online and in person, about transforming their parenting. Dr. Laura lives in New York with her husband, son and daughter.
Laura Markham, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist trained at Columbia University in New York. She’s held many challenging jobs (she started and ran a weekly newspaper chain), but thinks raising children is the hardest, and most rewarding, work anyone can do.
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