It's no wonder teens idealize the idea of having a baby -- babies are cute and offer unconditional love, while teen moms are made famous on MTV. Unfortunately, in 2008, there were nearly 750,000 teen pregnancies in the United States, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancies, so the threat of your teen becoming a teen mom before age 20 is real. Talk to your teen and help her see the real facts behind teenage parenthood before making a life-changing decision, like becoming a teen mom.
Ask your teen why she wants to have a baby. Teens don't always use the most sophisticated decision-making skills and wanting a baby usually is the result of some other emotion. Your teen might be having trouble in her relationship, and hope that a baby will keep her and her boyfriend together. Your teen might feel lonely and crave the unconditional love of having a baby. Your teen also might want the attention she sees teen moms on TV getting. By finding out your teen's motivations, you can tackle those problems and tailor your explanations to her misconceptions.
Explain the health risks of having a baby in her teen years. According to the March of Dimes, teens are the least likely to receive adequate prenatal care and more likely to have their babies prematurely. Talk about some of the other things your teen will have to deal with, such as gaining weight, getting stretch marks, and pregnancy hormones and sickness.
Create a mock budget and show your teen how having a baby could affect her financially. Include prenatal costs (medical bills, care and the cost of labor and delivery) along with the costs of raising a baby through the first year, including diapers, formula, well baby checkups, clothing and other costs. Indicate that you would not be able to contribute financially, so your teen understands that she would be solely responsible for the financial burden of having a baby.
Talk about your teen's goals for the future, suggests the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancies. College, future relationships and potential career choices all are deeply affected by the decision to have a baby as a teen. Your teen might not understand completely that the idea to have a child on a whim could have long-lasting and negative effects on her plans for the future.
Explore various options for birth control with your teen. If she dislikes her current method of birth control and that is one of the motivators for wanting a baby, you can schedule an appointment with your doctor to learn about other birth control methods. For instance, if she dislikes having to take a pill each day, an implanted device or an injection might work better.
- National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancies: Fast Facts
- National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancies: 10 Tips for Parents to Help Their Children Avoid Teen Pregnancy
- Planned Parenthood: I'm 15. Will Having a Baby with my Boyfriend Bring us Closer Together, or Make my Life Misreable?
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