This trend seems to match with what our center has noticed in recent years: fewer teens are bringing their parents to their pregnancy test appointments, and it’s not uncommon to see teen clients who haven’t even told their parents about their pregnancy yet. For teens who are in the midst of a crisis pregnancy, having parental support is a major factor that leads teens into choosing life. As pregnancy resource centers, we have a unique opportunity to come alongside teens AND their parents and offer the resources and support they need to confidently choose life.
So how can our centers help bridge the gap between teens and their parents?
Understanding Today’s Teens
In general, teens today are more cautious than their predecessors. Interestingly, today’s teens have an overall harsher view of their financial future and they are more likely to value fiscal stability, have savings, and avoid debt. Three out of four teens express the desire to be entrepreneurs and choose careers based more on security and less on their dreams.1,2 Risky teenage behaviors such as drinking, doing drugs, and having sex are decreasing, while rates of anxiety and depression are rising.3
Teens value being perceived as being mature and “in control” of their life and future, but they are also experiencing conflict with the fact that life is very unpredictable. Often our pregnancy centers are the first to come alongside teens when they experience the unpredictable situation of an unexpected pregnancy. Without parental support, the prevalence of pro-abortion dialogues in social media, teens’ overall negative view of single parenting and marriage, and their ultimate desire to have control and security can translate into higher rates of abortion-minded teen clients.
Understanding Today’s Parents
There are many reasons why parents aren’t as involved in their teens’ lives as they used to be. Many parents don’t feel qualified to lead their teens in discussions about sex, relationships, or purity because they themselves have made mistakes in the past. Sometimes there are language barriers and lack of education that prevent parents from accessing accurate information about health and safety. Also, many parents are too busy working and aren’t present long enough to build trusting and open relationships with their teens. Although parents are struggling to remain engaged in their teens’ lives, that doesn’t mean they don’t want to be involved.
Meeting in the Middle
Sometimes an unplanned pregnancy is the perfect opening for teens and parents to reconnect and grow stronger. Amazingly, through ministering to the needs of a pregnant teen, our centers have a unique opportunity to help entire families build closer relationships. Pregnancy centers can help transform the relationships of teen parents and their families by offering resources like family support groups, parenting classes for parents of teen parents, and by creating relationship building opportunities for parents and teens to find healing from the past and make healthy decisions moving forward. By strengthening our teens’ entire support networks, we can give them a stronger, more successful future as they become parents.
As a mother of four, author, and the Community Education Director at Modesto Pregnancy Center, Melissa Hopper is not a stranger to topics like sex, reproduction, and relationships. Through her work in the community, she facilities conservative and legally compliant sex education to over 6,000 California students each year. With God's help, Melissa’s goal is to drastically reduce community rates of teen pregnancies, abortions, and STDs by empowering parents to take control of their children’s sex education.