Did you know that 3 in 10 teen girls in the US will get pregnant at least once before age 20? That’s about 745,000 teen pregnancies each year. A little bit more than a few, wouldn’t you say?
What does this have to do with you? The topic of teen pregnancy is discussed all the time – in movies, on TV, in the news, at school. Your parents have probably told you about it too. You know it’s not a good idea to have a baby before you’re ready. So why do so many teens still get pregnant every year?
Know the Facts
Everyone loves babies. They’re cuddly, they’re cute, and they’re sweet. Most of the time. They’re also super needy and want all your time and attention. And they aren’t asking for it, they want it NOW. Think about it – would you like to spend your time changing diapers, feeding someone, and cleaning up after someone all the time? Have you considered the consequences of getting pregnant or getting your girlfriend pregnant? Think about this:
School comes second:
- Parenthood is the leading reason why teen girls drop out of school; after all, it’s really difficult to juggle homework and a baby. Less than half of teen mothers ever graduate from high school and fewer than 2% earn a college degree by age 30.
- Children of teen mothers do worse in school than those born to older parents—they are 50% more likely to repeat a grade, are less likely to complete high school than the children of older mothers, and have lower performance on standardized tests.
- About one-fourth of teen moms have a second child within 24 months of the first birth—which can further delay their ability to finish school or keep a job.
A baby won’t make him stay:
- You may think having a baby will make your relationship even stronger, but the fact is 8 out of 10 fathers don’t marry the mother of their child. It’s also true that these absent fathers pay less than $800 annually for child support, often because they are poor themselves and can’t afford legitimate support payments.
It’s hardest on the kids:
- More than half of all mothers on welfare had their first child as a teenager. In fact, two-thirds of families begun by a young, unmarried mother are poor.
- Children who live apart from their fathers are 5 times more likely to be poor than children with both parents at home.
- The daughters of young teen mothers are 3 times more likely to become teen mothers themselves.
- The sons of teen mothers are twice as likely to end up in prison.
-The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 2011
In case you need more reasons, here are
10 Good Reasons not to be a Teenage Parent:
1. You’ll have more money.
Babies are expensive. With purchases like diapers, food, and clothing for a constantly growing baby, you’ll have little left of your allowance to spend on yourself. Plus, having a child as a teen will make it harder to finish school and get a good job. This means you will be more likely to live in poverty. Your child deserves better than that. YOU deserve better than that.
2. You’ll be able to save for the things you want.
Your child’s needs will always have to come first – food, clothing, shelter, and medical care. The things you need or want – like decent clothes, a reliable car, or money for college – may be harder to come by if you have a child too soon.
3. You can finish school first.
Finishing high school will be much easier if you don’t have a child. You’ll have more time to study and you won’t have to miss classes to take care of your baby. It will be easier to attend college or a trade school after high school too.
4. Your relationship might not be ready.
Having a baby can put a lot of strain on a relationship. A baby won’t fix a relationship that’s in trouble. Are you sure you want to commit a lifetime relationship with this person? Even if you break up, you will still have to see each other if you have a child together.
5. Your baby will have a better chance of good health.
Children born to teens have a higher risk of being born too soon or too small. They also face a higher risk of health problems later on. Studies also show that children of adolescents are twice as likely to be the victims of abuse or neglect. Waiting to have a child until you are older may help reduce your child’s risk.
6. Your family may be upset.
How would your parents feel if they found out you were having a baby? Would they be mad? Would they be more supportive if you waited? Would you need your parents to help you raise your child? Would you want them to help?
7. Babies grow up.
Babies are cute and cuddly now, but they soon grow up. Are you ready for the terrible twos? What about colds and missed time from school or work?
8. You’ll have more choices about your future.
Do you want to be a doctor, a mechanic, a lawyer, or a hairdresser? It will be easier to make those choices if you wait to have a child. You will have time to travel, go to college, try out different jobs, and DECIDE who you want to be.
9. You may be a better parent later on.
Life experiences will give you skills that can help you become a better parent. You may become better at handling stress and dealing with life’s problems. The more experience you have before becoming a parent, the more you will have to pass on to your child.
10. You’ll have time to be a teen.
Teen parents are forced to grow up very quickly. You are only a teenager once. Take advantage of the freedom you have now. Enjoy making decisions about where you want to go and what you want to do – without having to find a babysitter first.
-Journeyworks Publishing. (2002). Teen Good Reasons Not to be a Teenage Parent [Brochure]. Johnson-Green, S: Author.