Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Today's Teachable Moment: Celebrity Teenage Pregnancy


For those of you who don't read OK Magazine (and I'm guessing that's most of you) that's this week's issue, where 16 year old Jamie Lynn Spears, sister of Brittany and star of tween TV show, announced she's pregnant and going to have a baby.

She also tells teens in this issue that they shouldn't have premarital sex but she isn't one to judge. Nickolodeon says it respects her decision. The Today Show anchors tsked their disapproval. The AP story says her mother was shocked at first but is now supportive.

NO ONE MENTIONED CONTRACEPTION.

Parents of 8 - 18 year olds, you've been handed today's teachable moment.
They all know who she is, and I'm betting by the time school gets out today they will have all heard about it.

Ask your child what they think. Tell them YOUR values about teenagers having sexual intercourse and what you hope their decision will be. Make sure that they know that abstinence and contraception prevent pregnancies. Most of us will want our teen children to know that we want them to wait to have intercourse until they are mature enough for a sexual relationship -- and that if they do have sex as a teenager, they must use contraception and condoms to protect themselves and their lives. Tell them you hope they will talk to you if they are thinking about having sex -- and that they will come to you if they think they might be pregnant.

This will definitely be a discussion topic at my family's dinner table tonight. Tell me how it goes in your's.

3 comments:

uuMomma said...

here's what I had to say: http://uumomma.wordpress.com/2007/12/20/teen-pregnancy-as-table-talk/

Miss Kitty said...

I guess this goes to show us what abstinence-only sex ed does for kids. I had sex ed classes in the late '80s, and our teacher (in our tiny, poor Georgia town) made sure we knew about contraception, STDs, pregnancy, pregnancy stats for teens, and so on. It scared me into making smart choices.

That said, what Jamie Lynn Spears has done is what many young girls in the South do. Getting pregnant is a way to show you're "grown," to "keep a man" (yeah, that one works), to escape an unhappy home life. Or it's done simply because you're ignorant and your folks didn't teach you any differently, because they too had you when they were teens. (And even though the Spears family is wealthy, they STILL are ignorant.) The teen pregnancy epidemic's been going on for a long time down here. Not sure what will make it stop.

Cathy said...

One of the many wonderful benefits my family has gotten over the years of attending the Milford NH UU church is the openness I have in discussing sexuality with my daughters. Starting when we first joined (they were 3 and 6), the presence of the About Your Sexuality program encouraged me to re-examine how I talked with them about age-appropriate sexuality. This continued as they entered their teen years. Being able to talk frankly with them about birth control well ahead of when it would be needed (and to bring it up again when it looked as if it was going to be needed!) has made a big difference.
When non-UU friends tell me about their worries that their teens might be sexually active and risking pregnancy, my first words are usually, "It sounds like time for a straight-forward talk." I am glad to be able to share the experience I've had with my daughters because I think a lot of parents wonder if it's okay to discuss birth control with their children (does it give permission for sex?) and whether anyone else would ever be having that discussion. I am grateful that at church I had a whole peer group that was affirming this straightforward approach.