Moms often talk about what would happen if their teen daughters got pregnant, but rarely is the subject of teen boys becoming fathers discussed, says Circle of Moms member Lisa M. She knows firsthand because her son recently told her that his girlfriend is pregnant. "It is tearing me apart...and I just end up in tears all the time. Anyone have any ideas about what I can say to him?"
She and many other Circle of Moms members belive that parents need to talk about preventing teen pregnancy with their sons as well as their daughters. Here, they share some of the strategies and tips they are using to help their teen sons avoid becoming really young dads.
1. Open the Door to Conversation
It is never to early to start coaching your son about healthy sexual relationships and the facts of life. Jennifer R.'s 10 year-old son is curious, but like many moms, she says "I don't know where to start."
Boys need information if they are going to make responsible choices about their bodies and their futures. Many Circle of Moms members say moms have to get over their fears about having the sex talk with their sons so that they can provide that information. Be clear and open about sex and borth control, recommends Cyndi B. " I have a 17-year-old son and I have a wonderful open relationship with him and that relationship includes conversations about sex," she says. "We both are very comfortable with the subject and he knows most of my mistakes I made when I was his age. Fortunately, I didn't get pregnant until I was married to his father."
2. Teach Him to Use Birth Control
Don't be afraid to hand your son a box of condoms, suggest several Circle of Moms members. Explaining birth control options is an important part of educating your son about safe sex. "I think the teen pregnancy rate is rising because people won't teach kids how to put on a condom," says Kate C. "Abstinence only is great in theory...but in reality it just doesn't work. If kids are given the right tools to practice safe sex they'll use them. Just telling them ‘Well, nothing is fool proof so don't have sex at all' doesn't work. In the areas where condoms are available in dispensers in high schools the pregnancy rate is dramatically lower than it is in the areas that teach abstinence only."
3. Prepare Him for the Risks and Consequences
Let's face it, your teenage son is not thinking through the consequences about having sex. So that is why it is your job as mom to spell it all out, says Circle of Moms member Amy H. "Teen boys are very young and probably don't think through the consequences of having sex," she says. "It's your job to tell him he will have to be responsible for the baby and ‘man up' if the girl gets pregnant."
But teaching your son about pregnancy and birth control is only part of the story. A mom named M.B. points out that we need to be very direct about other considerations, including being reponsible in a relationship, and STDs. "Honest conversations with teens about preparedness for sex and sexual relationships is enormously lacking in the US. As parents, religious leaders, role models of all sorts - we talk at kids, lecture them, and demand that they behave the way we expect instead of asking them why they feel prepared at 13, 14, 15, 16, etc. to have sex, risk STD infection for the rest of their lives and possibly to become parents."
4. Teach Him That He's On the Hook, Too
It's a mom's job to help her son understand what will happen if he gets his girlfriend (or any girl) pregnant. "I teach my son to be responsible for his actions," says Cyndi B. "If he was to ever get a girl pregnant, I would expect him...to do the responsible thing and take care of the child."
Shelly B. says, "You need to tell him what happens. He made the choice when he decided to have sex with his girlfriend. He made the decision to become a father when he chose not to protect himself. He needs to make the decision to take care of the child for the rest of his life. He may not want to stay with the mother, but he does need to take responsibility for that child. I get so tired of listening to these young boys saying they have no choice when they made the choice by deciding to get in to bed and have sex."
5. Be Strong for Him
If despite all your efforts, one day your son announces his girlfriend is pregnant, Circle of Moms member Meg N. says "You need to be strong for him." It's natural for you to be upset, but your son needs you to be calm and he needs to be able to talk to you, he needs a listening ear and a broad shoulder to lean on, he needs you to be his mom.. Sadly his childhood stops here."
In addition to supporting your son's pending fatherhood, there are specific things you can do, including encouraging him to join a support group, suggests Laura T. "There are support groups for teen fathers as well as programs to help him learn how to be a father. You need to let him know that his life hasn't come to an end because he's going to be a father, his life is just changing and there's a possibility that it is changing for the better."
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.