How should I talk to my teen about birth control?

Approximately 850,000 teenagers get pregnant each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The fact of the matter is, sexually active teens don’t always protect themselves from pregnancy. Whether or not your values guide you to teach your children abstinence until marriage, I think it’s important to teach your children about contraception -- just in case. I don’t think a lesson about the pros and cons of the different birth control methods -- condoms, birth control pills, diaphragms, and so on -- is an automatic go-ahead for your kids to have sex. Of course, you should stress that the only 100% effective method of birth control is not to have sex in the first place.

Before you begin a conversation with your teen about how to prevent pregnancy, make sure you have all the correct information yourself first. Find out which contraceptive methods are most effective and which also help prevent STDs.

Once you’re armed with the most up-to-date information, a good way to begin the discussion is to start asking questions. Find out if your child knows anyone who has become pregnant as a teenager. Ask questions about your child’s values (which you should have had a great influence on up to this point): How does your child feel about teen pregnancy? About children born out of wedlock? About abortion? You can help guide your child in developing a course of action that is consistent with his or her values and goals. Talk about your child’s dreams for the future and how an unplanned pregnancy can affect those dreams -- for both boys and girls.

From Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children by Jennifer Trachtenberg.

Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children

More About this Book

Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children

When kids start going on TV binges or devouring fistfuls of cookies, it's easy to say, "They'll grow out of it." More likely, they're acquiring bad habits that could lead to childhood obesity and...

Continue Learning about Birth Control

Could Non-Hormonal Birth Control Be Right for You?
Could Non-Hormonal Birth Control Be Right for You?
Some contraceptives contain hormones, others do not. In this video, we look at some of your options when choosing non-hormonal birth control.
Read More
How effective is an intrauterine device (IUD) in preventing pregnancy?
Kevin W. Windom, MDKevin W. Windom, MD
An IUD is very effective in preventing pregnancy. The chances of becoming pregnant with an IUD in pl...
More Answers
What side effects can a copper IUD cause?
Stacy Wiegman, PharmDStacy Wiegman, PharmD
For the first few months after you have a copper IUD inserted you may feel some menstrual pain, ...
More Answers
What are the risks of combination birth control pills?
Anthony L. Komaroff, MDAnthony L. Komaroff, MD
A combination birth control pill contains two hormones, an estrogen and a progestin. The hormones in...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.