I don’t know about you, but the idea of talking about the effects of teen pregnancy to my daughters is just plain frightening. Ever since these two girls entered the world my life has changed, and no one has ever been more a slave to daddy’s little princess than me – but I don’t mind.
The idea that my 7 and 4 year olds will grow up and start wearing underwire bras and doing all the other things normal girls do is something I would put a lid on right now if I could – but I can’t, so I cringe with each passing birthday and am relieved when I am still their favorite boy. see also :Teen Pregnancy Rates on the Rise!
You know what scares me more than letting my daughters grow up, begin dating and having ‘the talk‘? It is what will happen if I don’t have that talk. So I have decided it is time to man up, face facts, rip that Band-Aid off and begin my counter attack so that Daddy will always be the apple of their eye and no boy will ever dare mess with my daughters.
Step One: Talk
In case you haven’t noticed already from your wife or girlfriend, girls like to talk. It means more to them. I would be happy in the meaningful communication department if all conversations began and ended with mono-syllablic phrases.
But the research shows that girls with dads who regularly show an active interest in them are more likely to succeed in all aspects of adult life: college, grades, selection of spouse and avoidance of typical teenage pitfalls. This means just talking to my girls will help them avoid becoming a statistic.
Step Two: Rules
Rules weren’t my favorite when I was a teen, and my wife didn’t care too much for curfews and rules either, but as parents rules are our new best friends. To avoid the effects of teen pregnancy, rules better be in effect from a young age too.
I am not suggesting I rant on and on to my 4 year old about the boys she meets at play group. For now we focus on picking up toys, not hitting and using words.
The rules evolve to fit developmental phases, but they are discussed in advance. I am not going to pop rules out of nowhere when my girls are teens and expect them to stick. I am training them now to respect house rules.
Step Three: Setting the Expectation
I don’t like to discuss any of the girly things with my daughters. I leave that to my wife, but I am part of setting the expectations. My girls already know they are not to ever leave the house without saying good-bye.
Likewise they are to tell us where they are, who they are with and have a return home time before stetting foot out the door even if all they are doing is getting the mail across the street.
That seems like basic stuff, but teens who become statistics are often unaccountable to anyone but themselves. Consider this: over 66% of teens who become pregnant are 18-19 years old. Most consider these ages to be in the ‘adult’ range and supervision stops.
I don’t rule with an iron fist, I just point out to my daughters the safety and courtesy issues at play when they run off without letting anyone know. These are good habits that are being developed now to keep them safe today and tomorrow.