1. Be a parent and a coach
It’s important to remember that even though your baby is growing up they still need you – if not now more than ever. The examples that you, as a parent, set and describe to your children will help them learn right from wrong. Without you they really won’t be able to grow up with a good role model.
Sure, your children can learn from their peers and teachers and even their boss at work but the real life lessons can only come from you. Remember not to be biased and judgmental and be sure to offer as much information as they request.
2. Talk to them! (Not just talk at them.)
Communication is key in every kind of relationship and the relationship with your child is no different. If you appear to be unapproachable you will miss out on helping them through their trials and they will miss out on someone who can help them.
Again, being open to their thoughts and ideas and trying to stay unbiased will help them through a lot. Ask them about their problems and remember – If they are curious about something the information is best received straight from the horse’s mouth.
3. Educate them yourself, don’t rely on others.
It is well known that school systems have health classes that include sexual education, but that shouldn’t be the only source of this kind of information for your kids. Keep in mind that the educational community only allowed the discussion of some (not all) areas of this topic.
A good sexual education is important for helping your child understand the affects of pregnancy including the physical, mental, emotional, and financial areas. Proper education in the area of contraceptive options is also key. Make sure to discuss with them how important it is to chose the right form of contraceptives for them and their partner and that safe is never safe enough.
4. Trust them
There aren’t many people who are there for kids through and through. Even if you don’t want to be there for them or think you shouldn’t have to be, it is kind of your job. You’re the parent after all! If anything, teenagers are rebellious. Even the goody-goody ones who obey all the house rules have a wild side every now and then. You probably feel that itching to go look through the top drawer of their dresser or peek under their mattress for a diary or rummage through their backpack for just one little note from a school mate. Well… How about you don’t?
If your teenager has a question about sex and their sexuality the last thing you, as a parent, needs is for them to feel unable to come to you. Remember how it felt when you let them go out with friends and told them they had to be back by 10 p.m. and they weren’t? You probably told them they weren’t allowed out so late anymore. (Or out in general, yes?) They broke your trust and it hurt. Don’t break theirs! If they can come to you about things like contraception and sex you’re one step ahead of being called “Grandma.”
5. Keep an eye on them
Everyone loves that handy-dandy, built-in cell phone GPS function and parents especially like to whip it out when they think their kid is up to no good. While it is nice to be able to “track” them, this goes a lot further than just knowing where they are. Number five also plays in with number four, because if you have a good level of trust you should be able to ask where you child is and get an answer that is the truth.
However knowing what they watch on TV, what music they listen to, what they do at and after school, and even who they talk to can help. Ever see that one show about a bunch of teenagers who made a pregnancy pact? Yeah, stuff like that really does happen. If you can monitor what your child is being exposed to you can at least try and limit the sexual messages that seep into their minds each day. This doesn’t mean you should ban them from everything and it also doesn’t mean that it is okay to have a fit when you find out they watched an episode of “Jersey Shore.” It just means to try and catch what could be a bad idea before it festers into a plan.