Teenage pregnancy caused by teenage drinking happens to girls younger than you might think. Roughly 20 percent of the alcohol consumed in the United States is done so by young people ages twelve to twenty. When the drinking gets out of hand, inhibitions are lowered and anything can happen--and that includes an unwanted pregnancy.
Exploring Teenage Pregnancy Caused by Teenage Drinking
Teenage pregnancy caused by teenage drinking is a legitimate concern. If you have teens, you already knew that, right? Drinking lowers inhibitions enough to have contributed to one-third of the pregnancies in fourteen-to-twenty-one year olds. A staggering ninety-one percent of those girls weren't even planning to have sex when they conceived.
Young women and girls frequently lose their virginity when they've been drinking. Is it any surprise that when they have sex, they forget to use a condom?
When it comes to getting pregnant, condoms and planning won't always keep you safe. Adding alcohol and spontaneity into the mix makes for a disastrous cocktail. So what can be done?
Education as a Tool
Education and communication are two of the best tools you can have in your back pocket to combat against teen pregnancy--whether drinking is involved or not. Since they're not babies anymore, it's hard to keep an eye on your teens at all times. You won't always know where they are or what they're doing, but if you've educated them and they know it's okay to talk with you about anything, you've got one up on a lot of teens' parents.
Here are a few tips:
- If your kids aren't teens yet, go ahead and start talking early when it comes to a loving relationship with open communication. If they're too young for sex talk, you can still make sure they're comfortable talking to you about anything that comes to mind.
- Try to instill a strong sense of self. Talk about activities your children can do that don't involve alcohol. Engage them in sports, volunteer activities, etc., and talk about the inevitable peer pressures that will crop up in the teen years and how to handle them, say no, and still feel self-confident.
- Don't depend on school health programs to do all the educating. True, they offer sex education classes, but it's ultimately up to you to give your teen the education he or she deserves. And the one you want them to have.
- Discuss alcohol use and abuse. Talk about the effects it has on the body and the mind, both long-term and short-term. This would also be a good time to bring up Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. If your teen suspects she is pregnant, she should know the consequences of continuing to drink.
- Talk openly about sex. Let your teen know that no topic they want to bring to the table with you is too embarrassing or off-limits. The only way to know what they're thinking is to talk to them.
- Get stats. Numbers are scary. The number of teen pregnancies alone is scary. You may also offer the statistics listed above regarding pregnancies that occur while drinking. Here is a good breakdown of the cost of having a child. The cost alone of raising a child is, in some cases, enough to deter a teen from having unprotected sex or from putting themselves in a situation where their inhibitions may be lowered.
Some parents opt for birth control medications for their daughters, and if you suspect your teen is sexually active, this may be the solution for you. As a parent, you'll have to make the decision of whether or not it's right to put your daughter on birth control medication--and what age is best. Having the facts--where your teen spends his/her time, who their friends are, etc.,--will be a goldmine of information when it comes to making your decision.
Will your teen think that putting her on birth control means it's okay for her to have sex? Probably not, especially if you talk to her. Dr. Phil has a piece on his site about putting teens on birth control as an exercise in caution, a move to get them through high school and college before they're faced with the responsibility of a baby.
As long as the teen remembers to take her pill routinely, if she and her partner drink too much and fail to use a condom every time, her chances of getting pregnant are slim.
The Bottom Line
The best defense against teenage pregnancy caused by teenage drinking is communication. Both parents and teens need to be open to talking with each other about sexual activity, birth control methods, and alcohol abuse. If you still have time, start early. Talk to your child about your views on sex and alcohol abuse, and why it's best to refrain from them both until they're ready for the responsibility that can come with them. Be prepared to consider birth control medication as a "just in case" method of protecting your child.