New Study, Old Issues
Recent data from a new government report documenting the welfare of children shows a drop in teen births going from “21.7 births per 1000 girls in 2008 to 20.1 per 1000 in 2009.” Other aspects of the report weren’t as positive: the number of eighth-graders who’ve used illicit drugs has risen; more children are living in poverty; fewer children are likely to live with at least one parent who is working full time. The report was compiled by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, a “working group of 22 federal agencies that collect, analyze, and convey data on issues pertaining to children birth to 18 and their families.” The study is notably multidimensional, as it covers everything from teen pregnancy and drug use, to obesity, math scores, and poverty.
Still, this study doesn’t provide us with any answers in terms of how to continue to encourage the decline in teen births, or even how to decrease the rising numbers of illicit drug use. It is, however, a great marker for us to refer to as we continue on our parenting journey. The crux of the matter is we still need to broach the thorny subject of sex, pregnancy, drugs, et cetera, with our kids. We need to talk about the uncomfortable issues before the theory of pregnancy or drug addiction becomes reality.
Talking about the birds and the bees includes more than just the covering the technical side of how babies are made. As much as we may be concerned about the outcome of unfettered sexual activity, there are still runaway emotions occurring simply because of a teen’s developmental status. Fortunately (and unfortunately), we live in a time where conversation triggers are everywhere: films like Juno, or Saved, and television shows like 16 and Pregnant or Teen Mom are certainly fodder for beginning this conversation. Just talk about it; take away the mystery. When that’s gone, the intrigue just may begin to wane as well. Think about it: When you were a kid, and someone implicitly told you not to do something or touch something, was your curiosity piqued? I know mine was.
This conversation is important and ongoing! If we begin to broach the subjectt early on and with as much candor as is age appropriate, we gain the potentiality for honest communication with our kids. Knowing that you can trust your parents and talk to them about the “big” stuff is important—in essence, try to be the one your kids come to rather than the one they hide things from! At the end of the day, it’s far better if this information comes from us as parents than the misanthropic, older kid your child might admire!
Some helpful links to refer to: