According to a recent report the number of teenage pregnancies in the UK is falling however East Lancashire (where I live) still has some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the country [source: Lancashire Telegraph]. So it was no real surprise to receive a phone call from BBC Radio Lancashire asking to provide my opinion having been a teen mum and as the parent of a teen mum.
You can hear my chat with Graham Liver here on the BBC iPlayer (available until 29th July) at around 2hrs 8mins. As well as sharing my thoughts about finding out my daughter was to become a teen mum, I talk about how the positive stories are not included in any media-led statistics and how case-studies like mine (pregnant at 18 and still in a relationship the child's father 24 years down the line) are probably not as rare as they are believed to be - they are just not reported on because it doesn't make a dramatic headline.
This discussion got me thinking about how we really talk to our children about sex. Age appropriate dialogue is always important but are we too scared to actually talk about sex with our children? Is it the responsibility of us as parents to ensure that our children know everything there is to know or do some parents (incorrectly) presume that they develop, physically and mentally, at the same rate as their peers and leave it to the sex-ed class in school, whenever that may be these days?
What exactly is the best way to teach our children that having sex could (and does) get someone pregnant? We very much need to have this conversation with our children but there are no true guidelines anywhere. Do we proceed with the 'birds and the bees' talk, teach them about pollination in plants, introduce them to real live stories (rather than shock-doc type programmes), provide them with the statistics, tell them about our own experiences - good and bad... or what? Also, now that we are living in a more diverse world, how do we teach our children that they have to respect (and sometimes protect themselves from) the possible variations within different cultures?
At what age does sex stop being 'yucky' and start being a worry?
Is it so wrong that I had a child at the age of 18 a and then became a grandmother at the age of 36? And of curse I thinking the unthinkable and already wondering if history going to repeat itself once again in a few years?
Procreation is needed but it is a gift. It needs to be treated with respect for so many reasons. Let me know how are you sharing that message with your own children.