Parents and prevention of teenage pregnancy

Parents contribute a lot to the lives of their children. Recently I was listening to some preaching and the guy was saying that the man is the leader of the home. As the leader of the home God has put him in charge of all the affairs. A good leader should be able to take responsibility, even for faults that are not his own. The point he was driving home is, it does not matter if the mistake was the kid’s or his wife’s, he should take responsibility for it. If something goes wrong, even if he feels they are to blame, he should not blame them. There is something he has not done or something he has done that he should not have.

In this context however, I would want to include both parents if they are there. Your son just impregnated some girl or your daughter got pregnant. Questions are definitely going through your head and the most common one is “what didn’t I do right?”. Honestly parenting is one of those responsibilities that take grace. No one can teach you how to do it because daily you keep making mistakes, learning from them and growing to be better. If you have two or more kids what works for your son just never works for your daughter or what works for this kid almost never works for the other and when you think you have figured it out, they change and you are blank again, trying to find out what could work for them. When they become teenagers, the trouble just doubles. But how can parents, in their weaknesses and strengths, help curb teenage pregnancies? Because however hard it is there is always something we can do about any situation.

Communicate: would I be wrong if I said most parents fear their kids? Or are most parents just too shy?

I mean how do you go out there talking to your colleagues everyday about these things when you are too scared to talk to your own kids about them? These kids are not terrorists (although sometimes in their own way they are your tiny terrorists). Bottom line is, why would you fear your own? It is time we overcome whatever this is because we need to start talking.

Sex education:

Most parents have now closed their eye at the thought of sharing this with the kids. So many times when I’m out there talking with young people I realize something, those kids know too much about sex, much more than I do, sadly enough most of the information they have can only impact their life negatively. They have known it all peers, media both social and mass, books, newspapers, magazines, I mean there are a tone of stuff communicating a message of sex to the children. Let’s face it, sex education offered in schools cannot be able to sustain them in such a sexual world as this. So talk about these things.

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Role models:

Even before I mention all the big names children mention when they are asked who their role models are, their parents should always come first. You are the picture your kids read, the one who moulds them to be how they turn out. A few end up escaping the mess their parents are but some are not so lucky. So lead them right through your behaviours. Then share with them concerning their role models, direct them to the right path.

Media:

Whether social or mass, sex has infiltrated everywhere. Be watchful on your kids. Restrict what they watch as much as you can with explanations of course because kids have a tendency of going to the direction they are told not to go to if no explanations are offered. Supervise what they watch or the sites they visit.

Create a conducive healthy home

Domestic violence:

Statistics show that most girls who are exposed to domestic violence are at a higher risk of getting pregnant as teens. Create a home free from violence. Make peace a priority.

Verbal abuse:

Avoid insulting and over criticizing your children. They are all different, with their strengths and weaknesses. Find a way of rejoicing in their strengths and helping them world on their weaknesses. You are the mum or dad, whatever you say to them easily sticks to their head. Avoid degrading language and names. Talk to them with utmost respect.

Physical abuse:

I have nothing against spanking your child once in a while when it is reasonable or necessary. Some parents just beat up their kids (and by beat up I man beat up thoroughly) with no tangible reason. So he tripped breaking your favourite mug, do you really think he deserves spanking? He made a mistake he is already beating himself up over it. He does not need your help. So she overcooked the food, does she need to be disciplined? My point is, know when to punish your kids. Set ground rules so that they know which lines not to cross. When you feel you have to hit them, then be reasonable about it. Be cautious about the people you leave to look after your children too. Some hurt them physically.

Sexual abuse:

It breaks my heart that some of the people who rape/defile their children are the parents. What gets into the head of a normal adult that gets them there? For Christs sake that is your kid! Again I repeat, your duty is to protect them. Protect them from sexual perverts too, it’s also heart breaking that some of your children have undergone sexual abuse under your roof by someone so close (a relative or whoever looks after them) with you having no idea. Be involved in their lives. Know what is going on.

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Providing for their physical needs:

It gets hard sometimes with the current economy but try as much as you can to provide for their physical needs. Try as much as you can to give them a comfortable life. Do not give them the chance to be offered these things with someone out there who will likely lie to them, have sex with the, waste them. Teach them the art of contentment. That you will not always be able be able to get the, what they want but you’ll try to provide foe what they need always.

Family cultures:

Church, family prayers, duty rosters. Develop positive family cultures. Put in place prayer times/sessions, bring them closer to God, go to church with them, come up with duty roasters to teach them responsibility and independence. Ensure to come up with positive routines that can make them develop or grow into better people who love, appreciate, respect themselves. I am not saying this will always work, but it will reduce their risk of getting pregnant or impregnating someone as teens.

Be a friend: the world out here is tough. It is weird. It is strange.

Every day, children interact with different people from different background who have different values. Children need a friend. Who can be a better friend than mummy or daddy? When you are a friend, your kids learn to trust you. When they trust you, they can talk to you freely about anything without fear, they can ask you questions on issues affecting them without reservations. So how do you build friendships with your kids?

  • Remember there is a time to be mummy/daddy (be all harsh or tough or strict) but learn to strike a balance and be sensitive to what is needed where, how and why. Let your child talk to you freely about stuff without you getting all parentiish about it.
  • Avoid punishing or reacting to everything. So he/she is in the middle of a conversation and he sells himself out on a mistake he did or he just comes clean about something he did without you even asking. So he broke your favourite set of plates, he is sorry about it because he did not even mean to do it, I do not understand how spanking comes in there. Punishment is good, but it needs sensitivity again. Wise up, when should you correct/react? And how should you do it?
  • Avoid scolding or correcting or punishing a child in front of the others. This answers the questions where and how should you do it? Call him/her, talk to him about it. Share what you did not like. Punish accordingly but not this weird African way where your parent starts hitting you from the playground as he/she drags you to the house such that everyone around knows you were being punished. Without realizing it, most parents always break instead of building their kids through such ‘innocent’ actions.
  • Commend them whenever they do something good. Some many parents notice the negative that they have no time noticing any good thing you did however tiny. That is discouraging. It literally breaks the tiny soft heart of a child making them feel like they will never be good enough for you. How can they be a friend to a person who makes them feel that way? She is not organised but she cooks well? Complement her. She takes good care of her siblings but she does not keep time? Complement her. He does not perform well in academics but is a terrific actor/sport guy? Complement him. Appreciate their strengths while encouraging them to work on and assisting them to work on their weaknesses. A parent should be every child’s number one fan.
  • Create time for him/her. Times are tough. We all know that. Parents are so busy trying to make ends meet but in the middle of all the running up and downs create time for your kids every single day. They have a lot of questions, trust me. Every relationship is built when two or more people purposefully spend time together. So be there for them. Talk to them, listen to them, walk with them.
  • Never compare them to other kids or even their siblings especially if the point you are trying to drive home is that the other person is way better than them. I repeat, do not. Even if he/she has really annoyed you (kids can be sooo annoying, some days you wake up with the feeling they were just bent on spoiling your day) never pull this on them. It kills their egos. It destroys their self-esteem. They will grow up living in the shadow of other people. They cannot see you as a friend since you will always be breaking the friendship code that says thou shall appreciate your friends the way they are and never compare them to anyone else.
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Lifestyle: this is simply how parents live. The behaviours that they could have that can affect the children positively or negatively.

  • Sexual partners: how do you expect your son/daughter to respect the unwritten law of one sexual partner per person when you yourself break it right under his/her nose. Avoid these multiple sexual partners but in case that is too hard for you then do not expose your kids to these people. Remember you are their mirror. Even at that young age, they will not see any big deal in having multiple girlfriends/boyfriends and having sex with them without caring much on what could happen.
  • Drug and substance abuse: it should not be a big deal; mum/dad is doing it. Surely taking a little cannot kill me, he/she has not died. The bodies of teens will react different when exposed to these drugs especially because of their small body mass. As parents we should avoid using these, if you have to (you don’t have to and if you’ve gotten to that stage you need to go to rehab) then do so away from the kids. Keep the drugs away from their reach too.

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