These questions and more are discussed in this book:
The Parenting Children with Health Issues web site is also a rich resource for information.
I was saddened to read that Gloucester High School in Massachusetts had a record number of 17 pregnant teens this year. Apparently this happened after a number of them, all 16 and younger, made a pact to get pregnant. According to the article some girls expressed that they felt their parents would be fine with it and would help them out.
My daughter’s Seattle high school newspaper’s recent cover story was on three teens who had their babies while at that school. Each story spoke about how wonderful it was to have a baby and how much the family pitched in to help. There was no mention of any downsides of having a baby while still being a teen.
It appears that many teens are not getting messages from their parents about the serious consequences of teenage pregnancy. The parents of pregnant teens also pay a heavy price. The U.S. Census 2000 figures show that 2.4 million grandparents had primary responsibility for raising their grandchildren.
This data motivates me to talk to my two teenagers about sexuality and the incredible responsibility involved in having a baby. Parents, if we want to enjoy our grandchildren some day but do not want to be responsible for raising them, we need to talk to our teens about this. There are many books which provide wonderful suggestions about talking to kids about sexuality and associated responsibilities. Let the conversations begin!