How can you help your teen avoid unwanted pregnancies?

Most teen pregnancies are unintended and unwanted; preventing them can be a matter of communication and education. To communicate with your teens, you have to be clear about how you feel about the issues of love, sex and relationships in your own life, as well as in the teen world. Parents have to be realistic in what they want to communicate to their teens, and not make the mistake of sending mixed messages that don't mesh with their own behavior. You have to be clear about the values you want to express to your teens. Part of that is telling your teens how you feel about relationships at an early age, dating rules, appropriate sexual behavior and how to deal with peer pressure. Give them your support and guidance through all the issues of growing up.

Teens need parental guidance about relationships that extends beyond lectures on contraception and the consequences of irresponsible sexual behavior. Teens need to know what their parents think and why, so don't just lecture. Listen to your teens, express your opinion and ask them what they think, too. One of the goals is to clear up any misconceptions and false information, so that teens are knowledgeable about issues concerning sex and relationships.

One of the things that teens look to their parents for is guidance concerning relationships and intimacy; they don't just want to see the downside; they need to have a balanced outlook. Give your teen guidelines for dating and relationships before they start, so that they know what your values and views are before they start dating. Talk to your teen about the future, make plans and set goals. Make them realize how unwanted pregnancies can change even the best of plans. Spelling it out will make the issues of unwanted pregnancies something to avoid, so that all their options for the future remain open.

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