Don't Want Your Teenager to get Pregnant? Talk to Her About School


Everyone’s got their own idea about what works when it comes to preventing teen pregnancy. Some believe in teaching abstinence, some believe in providing facts and birth control. But is reminding girls about the importance of school an effective prophylactic?

In a piece for Psychology Today, Michael Ungar, Ph.D. writes: “On her 16th birthday I gave my daughter a big basket of condoms.” But he goes on to admit that every family is different and parents have to do whatever works for them. He cites doctoral research by Alejandra Diaz at the University of Texas at El Paso: Diaz interviewed teenage Latina girls who — despite having serious risk factors, like an older boyfriend, a mom who’d had kids young or being part of a low-income family — had not gotten pregnant. The girls were also good students.

In the case of preventing pregnancy, Diaz expected that the girls who had succeeded and not become pregnant had better sex education, or at the very least, were speaking about sex with their mothers. That was not often the case, and when it was, neither factor provided much of an explanation for the girls’ success. In fact, Diaz found that when a parent, usually a mother, said goodbye to their daughters as they were off on a date with their boyfriends, the mothers told their daughters that they fully expected them to finish school. College if possible. Not a word about sex. Instead, they expressed their hope that their children would make great futures for themselves.
The daughters understood this was a coded, culturally appropriate message that meant “Don’t have a child” until you can support it yourself.

An interesting technique, since, if memory serves, often teenagers hate being told what to do, and act like they aren’t listening, but hear everything their parents say.

How to prevent your daughter getting pregnant [Psychology Today]

Image via Alberto P/Shutterstock.

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