Over the past 20 years, the United States teen pregnancy rate has continually declined. According to the Department of Health & Human Services, the U.S. teen birth rate was 61.8 births for every 1,000 adolescent females ages 15-19, compared with 26.5 births for every 1,000 adolescent females in 2013. This is the lowest it has been since 1986. Some special interest groups, like Planned Parenthood, may attribute this decline to their distribution of birth control. Feminists groups may say it is due to young women taking control of decisions concerning their bodies while politicians may boast their advanced abortion policies not requiring parental consent. Even still, school boards may proclaim increased sex education classes are the source of the decline. I do not dispute any of these claims. However, I do offer another for consideration.
One understated reason why the teen pregnancy rate has declined is due to an increase in information. This is not just any information from academic or governmental sources. But it is, rather, increasing numbers of mothers who, having learned lessons from their youth, are having candid conversations with their daughters.
There were a lot of mistakes I made in my youth. Those mistakes had consequences; some serious and lifelong. What I noticed, as a single mom of a teenager, was when I was completely transparent with my daughter about certain topics, even offering my personal experiences as support, the information and openness, relieved her of the mystery, curiosity, and ability to be influenced or misinformed by others. The areas where I was silent, her curiosity and anxiety increased, and I heard more and more about what her peers suggested. It was the blind leading the blind.
Silence is dangerous and can be considered a risk factor of teen pregnancy. Often mothers do not share their experiences because they fear the judgement of their children or worse, have not moved from a painful point of their past. Even more, sometimes moms hold on to an unrealistic belief that it is “not my child.” But it can be if you are not an active parent willing to have the difficult conversations with your child; sons and daughters. Do not let your silence contribute to choices that yield consequences that may affect your child’s future success. This Family Circle article offers insight and suggestions on how to talk to your teen about pregnancy and may help.