The years of teenage hood is a time in any individuals’ life that is full of many different shades. At such times in life we are beginning to understand our world, we want to challenge laid down rules we did not question as kids, we are evolving with our sense of identity, because we are challenging laid down rules, we are likely to be rebellious at some point, engaging in a lot of verbal conflict especially with parents and other family members, and also indulging in activities that could lead to disastrous outcomes, such as teenage pregnancy.
During the teenage years both the male and female teenager go through a lot of emotional and physical changes. These changes among other factors are the very things parents and societies do not handle properly which then leads to lots of what can be called teenage menace. Teenagers involved in drugs, teenage pregnancy, teenagers contacting STD, teenagers stealing, teenagers getting into trouble with the law.
I believe health is all encompassing, emotional and physical health are very important. Should a young teenage girl get pregnant, she would face a lot of hardships, physically and emotionally. Also, since we all are not from the same societies, the challenges faced may be quite extreme in some compared to others. Teenagers are often times trying to find themselves, trying to really know who they are, what they want and where they are heading to in life, they sometimes don’t get the correct guidance through this journey, so they become victims of their own emotions, actions and whims.
I remember asking my mother as a teenager, what I was to do if I felt I liked someone in school, a boy of course, now that I remember I always find her answer hilarious. She simply made it seem evil, that in fact I needed to get rid of that feeling or liking as soon as possible, that was it. So who do I discuss this kind of matter with? Those who I felt understood me better and could relate such as my friend and cousins, especially cousins who were a little older, for when I asked a cousin the same question, he told me that it was not strange or abnormal, but he definitely gave me some rules, and what I recall vividly was he warning me never to get carried away with it all, I asked “what if I did” he simply told me that well then, I could end up with a baby. I got the message.
What really are the consequences of ending up with a teenage pregnancy? Some are medical related, while others are social and emotional consequences as listed below:
- Teenage pregnancies often times lead to the young mothers dropping out of school, often times not completing their education.
- Teenage pregnancies lead young girls to being ostracised and looked down on in their communities, even among family members.
- Children born to such mothers also suffer emotional problems, which their teenage mothers would be dealing with as well mostly due to a feeling of shame, and they (the children) would also suffer the social stigma of being a child of a teenage mother.
- There is a higher level of medical complications arising from teenage pregnancy and child birth, than with older women.
- Teenage pregnancies lead to future hardships in relationships for ladies, because men and women would rather not be involved in a relationship with a child or children involved.
Parents and guardians of teenagers and teenagers themselves must always be in touch with reality, the challenges of teenage life is a fact, teenage pregnancies do happen and can happen in any family. So here are a number of strategies mostly focusing on parents and guardians of teenagers, which they can take to help prevent their teenage wards from going down the wrong path:
- PARENTS SHOULD BE A STRONG PART OF THEIR TEENAGE WARD’S LIVES: Being a strong part of your teenage child’s life should not just start suddenly, it has to start when they are still kids, teenagers are known to block out adults and constantly want to stay away from them, so how are you going to suddenly want to be part of their lives without them finding it wired and running further away. The family is a strong unit of society, whatever goes on there reflects into the larger society. We find that close knit families have lesser chances of producing miscreants, that is not to say they do not have challenges, but they are a stronger unit, there should always be a strong parent-teenager relationship. Specifically, to be a strong part of your child’s life you need to:
- Talk to them often. The voices of parents still ring in their kids’ head even as adult, so they need to be fed with the right information early.
- Do not wait for them to find what they consider as friendship outside, let them find it with you their parents first. There is a time to be your kid’s friend and there is a time to draw a line. Being friends to kids by parents especially in African societies is not an idea that has been fully understood or practiced, this can go a long way with guiding your children on the long run as they grow into teenage hood.
- Participating in any activity your kids want you to be part of, at school or at home. Knowing their friends, and their friends’ families. Knowing where your kids are at any particular time.
- TEACH THEM ABOUT GOD AND MORALITY:
Whatever faith you may follow, teaching kids early about God’s instructions and the value of morals is very important, again because they receive this message early, it forms who they become. In my personal opinion, indulging in per-marital sex only brings about harms and zero good, it leads to depression, low self esteem, shame, a disruption of inner peace, as well as the many physical harms that come along with it, such as teenage pregnancy. Even if a teenager is at that point where they seem to want to do things their way and rebel, they will not likely go down the path of indulging in sexual immorality, because they understand that ultimately, it is wrong, hence they will not simply stay away from it because their parents will not approve, they will likely make a deliberate conscious effort to stay away from such actions. This means they choose their own path correctly when you have set the right foundation and taught them the right morals.
- PARENTS SHOULD BE GOOD ROLE MODELS: Teenagers rebel worse when they see people who have taught them to act properly contradicting what they they teach. Parents ought to be their children’s role models. It is important to act and be the same kind of persons you wish to see your kids grow into, they would cease to listen to you once they see that you only know how to tell them they are wrong but see you act wrong.
TEENAGERS SHOULD KEEP THE RIGHT COMPANY: When I was in secondary school, it was a normal trend that the guys considered to be the big boys were friends to the big boys, and they often break school rules and act badly, same with the girls, the “happening girls” who we often heard of their wayward escapades were friends to girls who acted same way, sometime you will see a good girl go bad, sometimes you will see one almost joining the bad girls but quitting. In the end, even teenagers cannot point fingers about the decisions they take in the absence of their guardians, they make choices, choices that can lead to ending up pregnant. Sadly, I recall a girl who died in my class from having an abortion, other girls later confirmed that it was not her first time aborting a pregnancy, how they knew that, I don’t know. When you are trying to be upright even as a teenager you find it terribly hard to believe that your peers are so exposed to be indulging in such activities. Keep the right company with friends who share similar values as you, this goes a long way.
- PARENTS BEING TOO STRICT OR TOO LAX: Parents being extremely strict with their teenagers have produced the most wayward kids, so have parents who were extremely lax, allowing their wards to do as they please. In life everything is about finding a balance. You are too strict if :
- Your never have any normal social conversations with your kids.
- If they have to lie to you about where they are going.
- If they have to rehearse what they want to tell you.
- If you say NO constantly to activities they want to indulge in such as going out with friends or participating in activities in their school.
- If you never allow them visit their friends.
- If you make your kids feel like failures and make life all about them excelling and beating their peers at everything.
All these and more will likely make your kids break/snap on the long run, and they would one day go all out and rebel to the depths of their soul, the result could be “a pregnant teenager”. Studies have shown that kids with extremely strict parenting, have behavioural issues.
As for being too lax:
- When you let your kids get their way all the time, you want to please them always.
- When you do not bother who they let into their lives as friends or who they let into your home, this is especially dangerous as it would be even more sad when a teenage girl is gotten pregnant right in her parents’ house, because they cared less about who was let into their home.
- When you know little or nothing about the families of your kids’ friends.
- When you do not set precise rules or routine in your home.
Its possible to be kind but firm with kids/teenagers, letting them understand why as a parent you took whatever action or denied whatever request.
TEACHING TEENAGERS ABSTINENCE AND SEX EDUCATION: The parent should take the foremost role in teaching this to their wards, not to wait for the school or an outsider do it. The teenager watches their bodies change, they need to understand what is going on, if parents feel shy or disgusted to speak about these things with their teenagers, they should not feel any less when their teenage son gets someone pregnant or when their teenage daughter gets pregnant. Abstinence is the best message to pass to anyone about sex, abstinence saves one all the troubles that come with per-marital sex, hence teenagers should simply abstain from sex, and be taught the consequence should they chose otherwise.
In conclusion, parents really do have a strong role to play in the path of their kids’ lives, however teenagers too have a choice to make, and they are the ones to suffer the direct impact of their actions.