It’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, and there is a lot you can do to help your teen offspring delay pregnancy until they’re really ready. Watching TV with them is one of those things.
Teen pregnancy has been everywhere in popular media in recent years and lots of people worry that it might be making early sex and young parenthood look glamorous to teenage viewers. But research doesn’t seem to support those fears. More than eight out of 10 teenagers who have watched MTV’s controversial hit reality show “16 and Pregnant” say that it doesn’t glamorize teen pregnancy, and, in fact, it helps teens better understand the challenges of pregnancy and parenting – and how to avoid it. Young viewers know that the lives depicted on the show aren’t glamorous at all, and the teen parents who share their stories on television are dealing with all kinds of challenges and difficulty that could have been prevented.
Do you know any young people who watch the show? If so, ask them what they think about the lives of the teens (and their babies) they’ve been following. Also, ask them what they think of teen pregnancy and parenthood. Starting with the safe topic of a favorite TV show can lead to enlightening conversations about their own feelings.
If reality shows aren’t for you, there are other stories in popular media to get the teen pregnancy conversation going. Check out “9INE,” a web series about a young African-American couple dealing with teen pregnancy, told from the expectant father’s point of view. The episodes are less than 10 minutes long and full of things to talk about. The couple’s parents’ reactions, what the friends have to say, how the young couple deals with their situation are all good conversation starters for moms and dads who want to discuss these issues with their own teens.
Teenagers are often interested in stories like this, and parents shouldn’t be afraid to eplxore them with them. Teens consistently report that when shows and characters they like deal with teen pregnancy, it makes them think more about their own risk and how to avoid it.
May is Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, so make a point to talk to your kids about the subject now – and when you do talk to your kids, please tell the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy how it goes. They’re collecting stories about how moms and dads are doing this and would love to share yours with their audience.
Go to stayteen.org to talk about “The Talk” with them!